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5000 LTTE fighters surrender in 3 weeks

world Updated: Jun 11, 2009 21:06 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

More than 5000 LTTE fighters and sympathisers hiding among refugees have surrendered in the last three weeks.

Among those who surrendered were LTTE fighters who escaped the 'no fire zone' in the middle of May and moved to government-run camps, the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) said in its latest report. They are currently being held in detention and rehabilitation centres.

The ICRC acted as a "neutral intermediary between remaining LTTE personnel and the Sri Lankan government, relaying information about individuals wishing to surrender,’’ the report said.

The ICRC was the only organisation to have worked among the IDPs in the NFZ during the final stages of battle and continues to be one of the few with unhindered access to the 41 small and big refugee camps in north Sri Lanka. There are more than 2.8 lakh Tamil refugees at these camps waiting to be rehabilitated.

Not only LTTE cadres, the ICRC had also facilitated the release of six armed forces personnel who were held by the Tamil rebels.

"Six members of government security forces whom the ICRC had visited during their detention by the LTTE returned home after the last days of fighting in Mullaitivu district, the ICRC said.

The ICRC delegates have interviewed more than 6,700 security detainees in 135 government-run places of detention throughout the country and provided them with clothes, toiletries and recreational items.

The ICRC report indicated that there were several cases of individual rights being violated. It said that it has made "representations to the relevant authorities concerning missing persons, arbitrary arrests, the recruitment of minors, unlawful killings and the ill-treatment of civilians or detainees
by weapon bearers."

Meanwhile, Japan, which is Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor, has urged the government to develop closer ties with the international community as Colombo in its effort to rebuild the war-battered north.

Currently on his 18th visit, Yasushi Akashi, a peace envoy for Tokyo, said the government in Colombo needed to engage in a "continuous dialogue with the international community".