As thousands of trapped civilians continued to flee the war zone, the Sri Lankan government today said the LTTE would be stamped out within the next 48 hours, signaling that a final offensive against Tigers was on.
"President Mahindra Rajapaksa has vowed that within the next 48 hours, thousands of Tamil civilians will be freed from the clutches of the Tamil Tigers,"a government spokesman said.
He said the President has also assured "all territory would be freed from the Tamil Tigers' control".
Rajapaksa's comments came as on the battle-front Sri Lankan forces pushed back the Tigers confining them to 1.5 sq km area by last night.
The Sri Lankan army has massed 20,000-25,000 troops for the final onslaught and these forces have encircled an estimated 1,200-1,500 remnants of the Tamil Tigers.
Over 5,500 Tamil civilians have moved out of the fast shrinking LTTE-control areas as a military spokesman said that forces were bracing thousands more.
According to UN estimates, 50,000 civilians still remain trapped in the no-fire zone and any sharp dwindling in their strength could give Sri Lankan forces more room to crush the Tigers, who have lost much of their fire power.
The reports that a final push was on came even as international pressure mounted on Colombo to call for a truce. UN chief Ban Ki-Moon warned that a human catastrophe could be on inside the rebel-held zone and rushed his Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar to Colombo to stop the fighting.
The pressure was also built up by Britain, which called for an investigation into all alleged war crimes and the US announced it was blocking $2 billion IMF bailout package for Sri Lanka.
Reports from the front-line said the Lankan troops were poised to seal off the Mullaittivu beach held by the LTTE and in mopping up operations today it captured 10 Sea Tigers' suicide boat and a mortar making factory.
Troops of the 58 Division and 59 Division closing in on Tigers from three sides are merely 2 km from the linking up and their convergence would totally snuff out all rebel resistance.
While the troops of 53rd Division are advancing along the coastline in the Nanthikadal lagoon, the forces of the 58th Division are advancing over the open terrain linking this area with the mainland.