Fierce fighting between the military and the LTTE claimed at least 17 rebel lives in the last 24 hours with the Lankan government continuing to resist international pressure to call for a pause in hostilities.
The government also claimed that nearly 3000 displaced Tamil civilians crossed over to government-controlled areas from the ‘no-fire zone’ (NFZ), since Saturday. “The civilians started arriving in large groups since (Saturday) afternoon using the safe routes opened by troops,” the defence ministry said.
The defence ministry, quoting intercepted LTTE radio transmissions, said that 17 LTTE cadres were killed and 22 suffered injuries in operations around the NFZ.
It further claimed that the number of civilians to have “escaped’’ from NFZ was fast approaching the 70,000 mark, adding another 70,000 was still held “hostage’’ in the NFZ.
“The NFZ has now become the main headquarters of the terrorists, where their leaders are covering among civilians,’’ the ministry said. The TamilNet website has claimed that at least 60 civilians were killed since Friday in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) shelling.