The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), cornered in a 5 square km area, declared a unilateral ceasefire on Sunday citing appeals from the international community to resolve the humanitarian crisis as the reason.
"In the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and in response to the calls made by the UN, EU, the governments of the USA, India and others, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has announced an unilateral ceasefire. All of LTTE's offensive military operations will cease with immediate effect," said a press statement issued by the -political headquarters of the LTTE.
The Lankan government was quick to reject the declaration, calling it a "joke".
"They are losing. That is why (the LTTE have called for a ceasefire). It has no meaning," the top Lankan bureaucrat, defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, told HT. Rajapaksa added that the LTTE were now holed up in less than 5 square km and had no fighting power left. "We will go ahead with our operations into the 'no fire zone' and free the remaining hostages."
The LTTE however said that they were declaring a ceasefire to overcome the humanitarian crisis in NFZ, located on the coastal belt of the north-eastern district of Mullaitivu, some 380 km from Colombo.
The Tamil Tigers claimed that more that 1.65 lakh people continue to live in the area under their control
The government has disputed the claim. According to government estimates, not more than 20000 displaced Tamils were living in the NFZ.
It was learnt that the UN was preparing a plan on how to extend humanitarian aid to the 1.7 lakh displaced who have moved to government-controlled areas till now.