B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military on Thursday announced a new 12-km-long “civilian safety zone” within the remaining area under the control of the LTTE in response to what has been termed as “worsening plight of the thousands held hostage by the Tigers”.

The Defence Ministry said here the region, demarcated along the Mullathivu western coast, would facilitate flow of humanitarian aid and medical supplies.

“The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] has duly been informed of the new safe zone.” The announcement came as the military continued its attempts to flush out LTTE cadre and leaders from their hideouts. The military estimates that about 600 LTTE cadre are still engaged in fighting.

Separately, the military said troops were engaged in pitched fighting with Tiger cadre in the Kuppilankulam and Tamarankulam areas since last week. “Battlefield reports indicate that troops have withstood heavy terrorist resistances while scoring significant victories against the terrorists,” said the Defence Ministry.

The Ministry said that on Wednesday it captured an LTTE printing press and a mortar bomb-manufacturing factory. There has been no response from the LTTE on the claims made by the military.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry appreciated the U.S. government’s decision to designate the Tamil Foundation as an organisation extending support to the LTTE and to freeze all its U.S. assets. The decision prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction with the Tamil Foundation. The U.S. authorities have charged that the LTTE uses charitable organisations such as the Tamil Foundation to raise funds to support its terror campaign.

The head of the Tamil Foundation is also president of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation, which was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on November 15, 2007.

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