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Lanka threatens to kick out aid agencies, diplomats: Report

Sri Lanka's top defence official has threatened to expel aid agencies, diplomats and foreign journalists seen as supportive of Tamil rebels cornered by troops in the island's north.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2009 01:51 IST

Sri Lanka's top defence official has threatened to expel aid agencies, diplomats and foreign journalists seen as supportive of Tamil rebels cornered by troops in the island's north, a report said on Sunday.

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse told the on Sunday Island that there would be "dire consequences" for any foreign non-governmental organisation, diplomat or correspondent attempting to give "terrorists a second breath of life."

"They will be chased away (if they try) to give a second wind to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) terrorists at a time the security forces, at heavy cost, are dealing them the final blow," Rajapakse was quoted as saying.

Rajapakse is leading the government's crackdown against the Tigers who lost their mini state last month in the face of a military offensive that has pushed the rebels back to a narrow strip of land.

"Rajapakse did not mince his words when he said that some ambassadors, specially the German and Swiss ambassadors, and some news agencies were behaving irresponsibly," the newspaper said.

The foreign ministry recently summoned german ambassador Jurgen Weerth over remarks he made at the funeral of a newspaper editor and outspoken government critic who was killed by unidentified gunmen.

Rajapakse accused CNN, Al-Jazeera and the BBC of trying to sensationalise civilian hardships by broadcasting video clips from LTTE websites, the paper said.

The government maintains that it has a policy of "zero civilian casualties" and accuses the Tamil Tigers of using tens of thousands of men, women and children as a human shield.

The government does not allow independent media free access to the island's conflict zone.

The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been joined by overseas governments as well as local and foreign rights groups in demanding safe passage for the civilians trapped by the fighting.

The UN has asked the Tigers to allow civilians to leave the small strip of jungle area where they have been boxed in by the military offensive. The ICRC has said "hundreds" of civilians were killed in heavy fighting last month.