Sun, Feb 08, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Sri Lanka says Tigers are behind calls for ceasefire

AFP , COLOMBO

Sri Lanka pushed its offensive against the Tamil Tigers yesterday, as the country’s top defense official accused the rebels of infiltrating international organizations in a bid to force a ceasefire.

As fresh fighting was reported in the north, Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse was quoted in the state-run Daily News as saying international relief agencies as well as news organizations were doing the Tigers’ bidding.

While foreign governments and agencies have called on Colombo to halt its offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to avoid civilian casualties, the government has refused, saying it is on the verge of victory.

“There is a well orchestrated campaign to discredit the government and the security forces and bring pressure on it to declare a ceasefire by LTTE agents who have infiltrated international organizations and media institutions,” Rajapakse was quoted as saying by the Daily News.

While Sri Lanka has resisted calls for a “no fire period” to allow civilians to get out of the conflict zone, rights groups and foreign governments have also accused the Tigers of holding civilians as a human shield.

Rajapakse said people allegedly in the pay of the Tigers were “fabricating stories to invent a scenario of a human catastrophe and are disseminating false information.”

Rajapakse, said there were fewer than 100,000 civilians trapped by the ongoing fighting in the northeast.

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