We assure safe passage for civilians: Rajapaksa

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Mahinda Rajapaksa - Sri Lanka President
Colombo, Jan 30: Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Sri Lanka has paid the results. The Sri Lankan government has given 48 hours ultimatum to the LTTE on Wednesday, Jan 29, to release the civilians reportedly have been kept by the Tamil Tigers as human shields in the battle area of Mullaitivu in north.

The civilians have been given 48 hours to reach the safe zones and the location as well as the coordinates of the safe zones are also being provided. In a statement released the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa said, "It is unfortunate that the LTTE is exploiting this declared safe zone for civilians by placing their heavy artillery within the safe zone, and using it as a launching pad to attack Security Forces and indiscriminately kill civilians."

"I urge the LTTE, within the next 48 hours, to allow free movement of civilians to ensure their safety and security. For all those civilians, I assure a safe passage to a secure environment. I also assure all those living in the North and in conflict areas in particular," cited Rajapaksa.

Red Cross reports suggest that there are morethan 2,50,000 civilians trapped in the territory controlled by the rebels struggling without food and shelter. Sources said that a United Nations convoy carrying more than 300 wounded civilians including children crossed the battle zone on Thursday, Jan 30.

Reports suggest that the Lankan army had earlier accused the LTTE of firing at them from the proposed areas where it was agreed that only refugees would be permitted. We should wait and watch if in the next 48 hours the battle between army and LTTE will subside enough for the civilians to move out unharmed. There are also fear that the LTTE may prevent the civilian movement as they has done it in the past.

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OneIndia News (With inputs from Agencies)

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