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All civilians out of war zone, Prabhakaran yet to be traced

The Sri Lankan Army is all set to launch a final assault to eliminate the remnant LTTE cadres and trace the top Tiger leadership including its supremo V Prabhakaran, as the last among the remaining 50,000 civilians fled the conflict zone today.

world Updated: May 17, 2009 16:45 IST

The Sri Lankan Army is all set to launch a final assault to eliminate the remnant LTTE cadres and trace the top Tiger leadership including its supremo V Prabhakaran, as the last among the remaining 50,000 civilians fled the conflict zone today.

As President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to Colombo from Jordon after declaring that the LTTE had been defeated militarily, jubilant crowds thronged the streets and held processions in the capital and elsewhere today.

"Troops have rescued all civilians held as hostage by the LTTE and taken them to safer areas... Sri Lankan soldiers have boxed remaining LTTE cadres into a 400m x 600m land stretch in Wellaimullaivaikkal area," the defence ministry said in a statement.

Military spokesperson Udaya Nanayakkara said that over 50,000 civilians have escaped the area in last 72 hours, even as 70 rebels trying to flee through water route were killed early this morning.

Soldiers have reached the concluding phase of their operation as over 36,000 civilians fled the No-Fire Zone in the last 24 hours, the ministry said, adding three divisions of the Army have entered the area where LTTE leaders were "cowering" among civilians during the last couple of weeks.

"Soldiers are now looking for disabled people that may be left in the area as almost all others held hostage by the terrorists were rescued," the ministry said.