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Sri Lanka

Government insists attacks on Tamil rebels will go on

Article published on the 2009-05-14 Latest update 2009-05-14 15:29 TU

A photograph of what the Sri Lankan military says is a Tamil Tiger rocket launcher captured in the No Fire Zone, released 14 May 2009(Photo: Reuters/Sri Lankan Government)

A photograph of what the Sri Lankan military says is a Tamil Tiger rocket launcher captured in the No Fire Zone, released 14 May 2009
(Photo: Reuters/Sri Lankan Government)

The Sri Lankan government on Thursday said that it will not stop its offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels. It said that this was not in conflict with a UN Security Council statement on Wednesday calling for civilian lives to be spared in the conflict.

Sri Lanka Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said on Thursday that the country was trying to ensure the safety of civilians. "We are not using heavy weapons," he said.

"In Pakistan and Afghanistan there are similar conflicts but no one is asking them to have a peace agreement or a ceasefire," said Abeywardena. "There is no international pressure there. Why only target us?"

However, the minister said that Colombo could not guarantee the security of international aid workers.

" Even the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] is finding it difficult to deliver food supplies there," he told reporters.

He also said that Sri Lanka is "not going to succumb to international pressure to stop the offensive."

The territory held by the rebels is down to four square kilometers in the north-east of the country.

"The members of the Security Council express grave concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis in north-east Sri Lanka, in particular the reports of hundreds of civilian casualties in recent days," stated the UN.

It estimates that about 50,000 civilians are still trapped in the conflict, while the government puts the figure at about 20,000.