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Lankan governnment rejects LTTE truce offer

April 26, 2009 18:33 IST

On the verge of annihilation, the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam announced an unilateral ceasefire on Sunday, saying that that the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka's war zone can only be overcome by a truce, but the Lankan government quickly rejected the offer and instead asked the rebels to surrender.

The LTTE said it is announced the ceasefire in the face of an "unprecedented humanitarian crisis" and in response to the calls made by the United Nations, European Union, US, India and other countries. "All of the LTTE's offensive military operations will cease with immediate effect. As the first step we have now announced this unilateral ceasefire and call upon the international community to pressure the Sri Lankan government to reciprocate it," it said in a statement.

Reacting to the Tigers truce offer, Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa said there was no question of ceasefire with the LTTE. "They will have to surrender or get eliminated," he said. But, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said it is an "incredibly unbelieveable joke". "Who will take them seriously when they are down on their knees and then announce a ceasefire," he told PTI. 

The LTTE's truce offer came on a day when the Sri Lankan forces captured the strategic Vlayarmadam area and encircled remaining six sq km strip of land which is the possible hideout of its chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and his top aides. The LTTE said the "suffering inflicted on our people by the Sri Lankan armed forces in violation of all international humanitarian laws has now reached its peak." The Tamil Tigers also alleged that people who were moved out of the war zone have been detained.

"These IDP population are not permitted to return to their homes. Instead, some are being used as human shields by the Sri Lankan forces," it said. The LTTE also asked the UN and its agencies to assist the civilian population and expressed readiness to engage and cooperate with them to address the humanitarian needs of the population. "We have taken into account the recent declarations by the G8 nations, the White House, Indian ministers and the EU and other members of international community. We are in full agreement that the humanitarian crisis can only be overcome by declaration of an immediate ceasefire," the statement published by pro-LTTE website said.

T V Sriram in Colombo