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Military asks fleeing Tamil rebels to surrender

The Tamil Tiger rebels have been on the run after four rebel bases and seven smaller camps fell to Lankan military control last week.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 14:04 IST

The Sri Lankan military urged Tamil Tiger rebels fleeing attacks by army and commandoes in the east to surrender on Monday, as operations against the rebel camps intensified.

Village heads in Amparai district were told to deliver the announcement to Tamil Tiger rebels who were in hiding or on the run after four rebel bases and seven smaller camps fell to military control last week, military spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Samarasinghe urged the rebels to hand themselves in at the nearest police or army post. The mainstream Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ridiculed the idea.

"It is not an issue worth commenting upon," rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said from the rebel headquarters of Kilinochchi.

"Now and then they (military) make such meaningless announcements, but we are not bothered."

Ilanthirayan admitted, however, that Sri Lankan forces had moved into some rebel-held areas in Amparai.

"Off course they made advances to our territory in Amparai, but then in Ampara we operate in a guerrilla mode," he said, adding that they are continually on the move.

Separately, Sri Lankan troops fatally shot two rebels who confronted them while on a foot patrol in eastern Sri Lanka.

The troops recovered two AK-47 automatic rifles, ammunition and two hand grenades from the dead men, who were members of the LTTE, Samarasinghe said.

The incident happened late Sunday in Batticaloa district, which adjoins Amparai.

Also late on Sunday, the military discovered two bombs, locally called Claymore mines, in the northern towns of Vavuniya and Jaffna, Samarasinghe said.

The mines are the preferred weapon of the rebels. The rebels have been fighting for over 20 years for a separate homeland for the country's 3.1 million minority Tamils, who have suffered decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.

The military has stepped up efforts to flush the rebels from eastern Sri Lanka, where the insurgents are at their weakest since a top commander broke away in 2004 with an estimated 6,000 fighters.

Although both sides claim to be adhering to a Norwegian-brokered 2002 cease-fire, violence has escalated since late 2005, with over 3,600 people killed last year alone.

First Published: Jan 15, 2007 11:32 IST