President Rajapaksa on Sunday (12 April 2009) announced that government troops would halt offensive measures for two days to mark the Sinhala/Tamil New Year. It was President Rajapaksa’s hope that a break in hostilities would allow some of the estimated 70,000 people held by the LTTE as a human shield to flee to the safety of the government lines. A statement issued by President Rajapaksa’s office said: “The President is deeply conscious of the need to give the civilian population entrapped as hostages by the ruthless actions of the LTTE, the opportunity to celebrate these festivities in a suitable atmosphere and to have uninhibited freedom of movement from the No Fire Zone to the cleared areas. With this objective in view, His Excellency has directed the Armed Forces of the State to restrict their operations during the New Year to those of a defensive nature. The Sinhala & Tamil New Year is symbolic of the amity prevailing amongst all communities in Sri Lanka.”

However, since the announcement, the LTTE has prevented civilians from crossing over to the government side. The LTTE shoots at civilians who attempt to flee.

LTTE terrorist combatants Monday (13 April 2009) used the government’s self-imposed pause to target Sri Lankan troops with tank fire in northeastern Sri Lanka. Ignoring a two-day unilateral pause declared by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the LTTE has also used the halt in Sri Lankan offensive actions to fortify its positions within the no-fire zone that the government declared some weeks back. Aerial surveillance shows the LTTE is using the government’s pause in combat operations to repositioning of LTTE cadres to prevent civilians from escaping and regrouping themselves to vantage points.

Apart from tank fire from within the no-fire zone, which the LTTE has refused to recognize, LTTE terrorists also struck a village in southern Sri Lanka Sunday. Just several hours after President Rajapaksa suspended offensive operations, LTTE terrorists killed eight innocent civilians in a brutal attack in the village of Mahagodayaya in southeast Sri Lanka. Two other civilians were injured. Two of those killed were children -- a one and a half-year-old infant and an 11-year-old boy.

A number of foreign governments applauded President Rajapaksa for his decision to pause combat during the New Year holiday. Sir John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs welcomed the pause in combat and reiterated that, "The main message to the Tigers has been please end the suffering of the people by allowing them to leave if they wish to leave."

The United States recently joined Sri Lanka, the UN, and other nations in calling for the LTTE to release the civilians it is holding hostage. Instead, the LTTE shoots civilians who try to flee to Sri Lankan government’s safety zones. The Sri Lankan government provides food and medicine to those trapped by the LTTE. More than 65,000 people have fled the LTTE for the safety of government welfare centers.

Sunday’s attack was similar to other assaults carried out by LTTE cadres in the area. Although attacks by the LTTE on civilians have continued throughout the 25-year long conflict, the frequency of the attacks has increased in the last two years. Those attacks include:

  • Five farmers killed in LTTE attack - March 25, 2009

  • 10 civilians killed by suspected LTTE cadres in Sri Lanka (Lead) - February 22, 2009

  • UN, US deplore suicide attack in Sri Lanka - February 9, 2009

  • Four civilians killed in LTTE bus attack: military (Lead) - July 11, 2008

  • Two killed, nine wounded in Colombo blast(Third Lead) - June 1, 2008


Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

13 April 2009


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