Setting the stage for the final assault on the LTTE, Sri Lankan forces today encircled a small strip of land in the north, where Tiger supremo V Prabhakaran is believed to be holed up, and deployed warships to foil any escape bid by rebels amid global calls for a truce.
Backed by tanks, the security forces surrounded the 8 sq km jungle patch, where an estimated 800-900 Tamil Tigers were still offering resistance, the military said.
A naval blockade was put around northern Mullaittivu close to the areas where LTTE cadres still had access to the sea as Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka said the troops knew the "general area" where Prabhakaran could be hiding.
"We are set to destroy him," Fonseka said, admitting that troops were facing stiff resistance from remnant LTTE cadres.
But the Army chief said the security forces' primary task at the moment was to get trapped Tamil civilians out of the war zone to safety. Authorities had earlier said that more than one lakh civilians had fled the war zone.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama termed the flow of civilians from the northern region in the past few days as an "emergency humanitarian situation."
"Our friends in the international community are most welcome to provide emergency relief assistance by way of semi-permanent shelter, water purification plants, sanitation facilities and medical assistance," he told reporters.