Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Give up or die, Sri Lanka tells rebels

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — In a sign of its growing confidence, Sri Lanka issued an ultimatum Monday calling on Tamil rebels to surrender or perish after the army reportedly breached a major defensive barrier, paving the way for tens of thousands of civilians to make a run for it.

Troops captured an additional square-mile area of the rebels' shrinking terrain Monday, freeing about 19,000 civilians trapped by the fighting, while the navy freed 2,165 more people as more fled in other directions, said Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman.

By some reports, as many as 35,000 noncombatants fled the hotly contested battle zone. None of the claims could be verified since the Sri Lankan government rarely allows independent media, civic or monitoring groups into the conflict area.

Government forces broke through part of a 7-mile-long barrier built by the rebels as they prepared for their last stand, military officials said. The breach allowed civilians to flee the area.

Last week, the government announced a 48-hour halt in its attacks against the rebels, known as the Tamil Tigers, so some of the estimated 100,000 trapped civilians could leave the area, but few emerged. The government blamed that on rebel leaders who, they and some international groups said, have been using noncombatants as human shields.

Sri Lanka has been under international pressure to address a growing humanitarian crisis. But the government has said repeatedly any easing up of pressure will only help the Tigers to escape or regroup.

The civil war has raged for the past quarter century.

Give up or die, Sri Lanka tells rebels 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 10:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.