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UN food convoy for Lanka turns back

world Updated: Oct 17, 2008 12:42 IST

A major UN food convoy headed for northern Sri Lanka was forced to turn back because of fresh fighting between government forces and LTTE rebels in the restive region and would try to reach there again after seeking security assurances from the warring sides, the world body said.

The UN will seek renewed security assurances from both the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers before attempting to make the route on Saturday morning, the world body's Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Neil Buhne, said in a statement.

The convoy the second to be dispatched in as many weeks

Was heading for the northern Vanni area in a bid to reach an estimated 230,000 civilians who have been displaced behind the lines of confrontation in the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

Comprising 50 trucks, the World Food Programme (WFP) convoy was carrying 750 tonnes of food when it left the town of Vavuniya on Thursday afternoon, and it was expected to reach its destination by evening.

Intensified clashes between the military and LTTE members in recent weeks have displaced tens of thousands of people and sparked warnings from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials about the humanitarian impact on civilians.