Colombo, Apr 20 (ANI): Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday warned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Velupillai Prabhakaran to surrender within 24 hours.
Concerned over the insurgency in the island nation, Rajapaksa said that if Prabhakaran fails to do so by Tuesday afternoon, the Lankan troops will go all out for a final military assault.
Rajapaksa told the reporters here that government forces opened up routes for more than 35,000 people to escape from the LTTE-held territory.
Earlier, the Srilankan Defence Ministry had informed that Naval boats came to the rescue of the civilians fleeing the war zone today even as a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber who was among thousands escaping into Army-controlled areas set off a blast that killed at least 17 people.
"An LTTE suicide bomber has attacked thousands of Tamil civilians who are now trying to seek refuge with the Sri Lankan Army, this morning," the ministry's website said. "Battlefield sources said at least 17 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in the cowardly bomb blast."
The website says that over 5,000 people came out rushing today after the soldiers broke a long earthen wall the Tiger rebels had built to halt their advance.
"Troops captured the earth bund and so far 5,000 people have been rescued. It is still going on," military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The military has also claimed that Monday's flight of civilians was the single largest evacuation operation in a day. ccording to the Telegraph, the fleeing civilians are likely to join the thousands of others who have been kept by the government in cramped, makeshift camps where they face overflowing drains, water shortages and the threat of disease in the sweltering, unsanitary conditions. (ANI)