Tamil Tiger rebels declare ceasefire
Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels have declared a truce after suffering devastating military losses in their secessionist war with the government.
“In the face of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and in response to the calls made by the UN, EU, the governments of India and others, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has announced a unilateral ceasefire,” a statement on the group’s website said on Sunday.
The truce came after government forces surrounded the rebels in a small area on Sri Lanka’s northeastern coast. The United Nations and others have called for ceasefire to allow the civilians trapped in the vicinity to escape.
But the move was immediately rejected by the government, who demanded a full surrender.
“That is a joke. They were not fighting with us, they were running from us,” Sri Lanka’s defense chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksam told Reuters. “There is no need of a ceasefire. They must surrender.”
According to the UN, more than 160,000 civilians have fled the area but 50,000 still remain. At least 2,000 people are believed to have died in the war in the last month, although this figure does not include all of those killed in this week’s intense fighting.