Fears grow for trapped civilians as army advances on Tamil Tigers


International concern is intensifying over the fate of around 350,000 civilians trapped in a rapidly shrinking rebel-controlled pocket of land in Sri Lanka‘s north east, as the military steps up its campaign to end the civil war by crushing the Tamil Tiger forces.

The Sri Lankan army this week announced that it had seized new swathes of territory from the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), forcing the dwindling guerrilla forces to retreat to their last remaining stronghold, the small coastal town of Mullaitivu.

Aid agencies believe that hundreds of thousands of people made homeless by the latest offensive have been pushed back, along with the guerrilla fighters, and are now crowded into a densely forested patch of land around 30km wide. Most of these civilians are thought to be sheltering with locals, or beneath shelters roughly thrown together from palm leaves, and food supplies are very restricted.

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