Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Sri Lankan military urges fleeing Tamil rebels to surrender

AP , COLOMBO

The Sri Lankan military urged Tamil Tiger rebels fleeing attacks by army and commandos in the east to surrender yesterday, as operations against the insurgents' camps intensified.

Village heads in Ampara district were told to deliver the announcement to Tamil Tiger rebels who were in hiding or on the run after four rebel bases and seven smaller camps fell to military control last week, military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Samarasinghe urged the rebels to hand themselves in at the nearest police or army post.

The mainstream Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ridiculed the idea.

"It is not an issue worth commenting upon," rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said from Kilinochchi.

"Now and then they [the military] make such meaningless announcements, but we are not bothered," he said.

Ilanthirayan admitted, however, that Sri Lankan forces had moved into some rebel-held areas in Ampara.

"Of course they made advances to our territory in Ampara, but then in Ampara we operate in a guerrilla mode," he said, adding that they are continually on the move.

Separately, Sri Lankan troops fatally shot two rebels who confronted them while on a foot patrol in eastern Sri Lanka.

The troops recovered two AK-47 automatic rifles, ammunition and two hand grenades from the dead men, who were members of the LTTE, Samarasinghe said.

The incident happened late on Sunday in Batticaloa district, which adjoins Ampara.

Also late on Sunday, the military discovered two bombs, locally called Claymore mines, in the northern towns of Vavuniya and Jaffna, Samarasinghe said. The mines are the preferred weapon of the rebels.

The rebels have been fighting for over 20 years for a separate homeland for the country's 3.1 million minority Tamils, who have suffered decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.

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