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Lanka boxes in Tigers

world Updated: May 17, 2009 03:18 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Sri Lankan military on Saturday captured the remaining north-eastern coastline of Mullaitivu, claiming control of the country’s entire shoreline for the first time since 1983.

They have now cut of the LTTE’s access to the sea, effectively squeezing them between the coast and a lagoon, and reducing the area under their control to less than 2 square km.

The new victories of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) came as President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced at a summit in Jordan that he would “return to a nation that vanquished terrorism’’. Rajapaksa is slated to return on Sunday. His latest statement comes two days after he said that all Tamil refugees would be freed in 48 hours.

The announcements also came as the Lankan defence ministry warned of mass suicides by the trapped LTTE cadres. “Terrorists are blowing off large explosive and ammunition dumps also using stocks of white phosphorous with improvised barrel bombs to create large destruction within the makeshift hostage camps,’’ defence ministry said.

The government, however, remained tightlipped about the whereabouts of LTTE chief V Prabhakaran but maintaining that he could still be inside.

“Intelligence reports have said Prabhakaran is still inside. The troops are still carrying out clearing operations. Search operations are still on. Maybe he is planning to commit suicide; maybe he will surrender. We will know in a few days,’’ defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, told HT.

The defence secretary said that the remaining area under the LTTE area was big enough for Prabhakaran to hide. ``For one man to hide, the area is big enough,’’ he said.

Not only Prabhakaran, the rest of the leadership including Pottu Amman, B Nadesan and Soosai could also be in the area which has now been sealed by the SLA.

Meanwhile, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff, Vijay Nambiar, was due to land in Colombo for the second time in a month to make a last-ditch attempt for a negotiated end to the war.