Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE;

6 04 2009
Surrender or face rout, Rajapksa tells LTTE; toll reaches 480
T V Sriram
Colombo, Apr 6 (PTI) With the LTTE remnants, including its top leaders, believed to be hiding in a narrow strip teeming with civilians, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asked them to lay down arms or “face rout” as troops braced for a final battle after killing 480 rebels in four days of fighting.

With the operation turning more complex after the rebels were forced into the no-fire zone, the security forces are now preparing to rescue over 70,000 Tamil civilians trapped there.

Rajapaksa said there will be no ceasefire with the rebels and maintained that the troops will free the civilians, who, the government alleges, are being held hostage by the LTTE.

The rebel remnants, including their supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran, second-in-command Pottu Amman and other senior commanders, are believed to be holed up in the 20 sq-km safety zone — a jungle strip along a beach in the north — after troops captured Pudukudiyirippu, the last LTTE bastion.

With recovery of more bodies of LTTE cadres from Pudukudiyirippu, the rebel toll in four days of close-quarter combat increased to 480, the military said today.

President Rajapaksa asked the LTTE, which have fought since 1983 for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka, to surrender and avoid a “complete rout that is close now”.

“The only way out for the rebels is to save their lives, and if they lay down arms and surrender, it will save the lives of the trapped civilians too,” he said. PTI

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