The Sri Lankan Army on Thursday denied its troops "extensively used chemical weapons" against the Tamil Tigers.The army called the allegation by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) another effort by the "pro-Tiger mouthpieces worldwide unable to digest the humiliating defeat at the hands of security forces". "The army categorically denies LTTE's baseless allegations and strongly affirms that the army has no need to use such weapons when they were so close to the last leg of the war. "Had that been used as alleged, neither army troops in Puthukkudiyiruppu (in Mullaitivu district) nor trapped civilians in the no-fire-zone would have escaped unhurt," it said in a statement.
After three days of fierce close-quarter battles, the troops dealt a major blow to the LTTE on Sunday and captured Puthukkudiyiruppu, where the rebels have maintained several military and naval bases and armoury over the past three decades.The military said it had recovered 525 bodies of LTTE fighters including those of a dozen battle-hardened leaders.
A large haul of weapons, including several artillery and anti-aircraft guns, have also been recovered since Sunday.
The UN on Tuesday expressed "deep concern" for the lives of thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in a small strip of land in Mullaitivu district and said "a series of humanitarian pauses must be initiated immediately to allow civilians to leave" the war zone.
Walter Kalin, representative of the UN secretary-general on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, said that "over 100,000 civilians (were) trapped in the 14-sq km ... no-fire zone". "Large numbers of civilians have been killed or wounded. Following reports that LTTE fighters now have been pushed almost entirely into this zone, many more are at risk of losing their lives," Kalin said in a statement.
Over 65,000 internally displaced people have entered government-held areas since the start of 2009 and are temporarily housed in welfare centres and villages in the northern Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna districts.
The LTTE has been fighting to carve out a separate state in the island's northeast over the past quarter century.