Lanka govt plays down number of civilians trapped in war zone | world | Hindustan Times
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Lanka govt plays down number of civilians trapped in war zone

Amid global concerns over the fate of civilians in Sri Lanka's war zone, the government on Saturday rubbished LTTE's claim of 1.65 lakh Tamils still trapped in the 'No Fire Zone'.

world Updated: Apr 25, 2009 19:14 IST

Amid global concerns over the fate of civilians in Sri Lanka's war zone, the government on Saturday rubbished LTTE's claim of 1.65 lakh Tamils still trapped in the 'No Fire Zone'.

Faced with defeat in the nearly three decade old conflict, LTTE said that nearly 165,000 civilians in the areas controlled by it were close to starvation and accused the government of blocking food and humanitarian supplies to the area.

Dismissing the LTTE's claim of 1.65 lakh Tamils still in its areas as "absurd and misleading", the Lankan Army on Saturday said about 1.94 lakh civilians have crossed over to the government held areas since January this year.

"The claims of LTTE that 1.65 lakh Tamil civilians are still present in their areas is completely fabricated, misleading and wrong,” Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told PTI.

The government, citing surrendered Tamil Tiger leaders, has estimated the number of Tamil civilians still in LTTE areas to be between 10,000 to 15,000.

Nanayakkara said the security forces on Saturday rescued 20 Christian religious workers in the 'No Fire Zone' near Pudukudiyirippu area. As many as 1,09 320 civilians have been rescued from the embattled area by the army since April 20.

So far a total of 1,93,960 Tamil civilians have been rescued from the LTTE areas since January this year, according to the defence ministry.