Govt. clears Mullaitivu for final assault

GA leaves, civil administration suspended
By Chris Kamalendran

Civil administration work carried out in the Mullaitivu district has been officially suspended to facilitate the civilians to leave the district, as security forces pushed forward to capture the last stronghold of Tiger guerillas.

Mullaitivu Government Agent Emelda Sukumar said directions had been issued to all public servants to stop work and leave the district for their own safety.

The directive was issued on Friday night in the wake of heavy fighting between the security forces and the LTTE. Civilians reported that the exchange of artillery fire between the two sides was taking place across civilian populated areas.The Mullaitivu Government Agent’s office was last shifted to Puthukudirippu from where it was assisting in the distribution of food and other essentials to the displaced civilians.

This is the first time the government’s administrative machinery has been suspended in the district during the conflict which has raged for more than 25 years. In all previous instances of heavy fighting, government offices had been moved further into LTTE-controlled areas.

The Kilinochchi District Secretariat which was shifted to Puthkudirippu also has been closed down, according to Government Agent N. Vedhanayagan. The GAs of both Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi have left the districts.

However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is continuing to maintain its presence in the LTTE-controlled areas in the Mullaitivu district.

An ICRC spokesperson said there were about 300 patients in the Puthukudirippu hospital and they would maintain their presence as long as there were sick and injured people.

However a UN office located at Puthukudirippu to facilitate food distribution moved towards the Udhayarkaddu area which has been declared by the military as a “safe zone’ for civilians to come to the area.

Two UN aid workers currently based in the uncleared areas were trying to move families of local UN aid workers, but until last afternoon the LTTE had not permitted them to leave, though they had agreed that the aid workers could return to the government controlled areas.

During a news briefing in New York on Friday, UN spokesman Michele Montas was asked whether he considered the holding back of the local staff as being held as hostages. “They are not qualifying it as a hostage situation yet. They are right now just appealing for free movement for the people who went in on a humanitarian mission,” he said.

Tigers blast tank bund

The LTTE blasted the Kalamadukulam Tank bund yesterday morning flooding a section of the A-35 Pranthan-Mullaittivu main road, Ramanathapuram, Dharmapuram and Visuamadu, Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakara said.

“The water levels had reached around four feet in some areas, including locations where large numbers of civilians are trapped in,” Brigadier Nanayakkara said.

He said the troops were affected by the flooding, but there were no reports that they had suffered casualties.

He said he had little information regarding civilian casualties but added he feared there could be some.
Earlier the LTTE had made a similar attempt to destroy the Iranamadu Tank bund to thwart the multi-pronged military advance towards Kilinochchi.

The Kalamadukulam Tank spreads over 4.5 sq. km with a capacity of supplementing irrigation water to more than 500 acres of land.

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