Shelling thwarts civilian evacuation
[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 May 2000, 18:12 GMT]
The evacuation of an estimated 15,000 civilians from the embattled Chavakachcheri sector failed Saturday, as heavy shelling by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) prevented them moving to designated points where UNHCR officials were waiting, following the declaration of a ceasefire by the Liberation Tigers, the LTTE said in a statement. The LTTE urged international governments to "prevail on the Sri Lankan armed forces to desist from using civilians as human shields and subjecting them to indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombardment".
Following is the full text of the press release:
"The temporary cease-fire offer made by the LTTE to facilitate the evacuation of Tamil civilians in the battle zones of the Chavakachcheri sector was rejected by the Sri Lankan government today.
"The Sri Lankan army intensified aerial and artillery bombardment on Chavakachcheri town and its suburbs throughout the day preventing the movement of civilians to safe areas.
"The LTTE observed a unilateral cessation of hostilities from 10a.m to 10p.m today and requested the UNHCR to assist with the evacuation of civilians. UNHCR officials were waiting at designated points to receive civilians, but few were able to move as the main roads and junctions were subject to heavy shelling.
"The UNHCR had informed the Sri Lankan government about the cease-fire arrangement. The Sri Lankan government failed to respond.
"The LTTE has urged international governments and the world human rights organisations who have already expressed serious concern about the predicament of Tamil civilians to use their good offices to prevail upon the Sri Lankan armed forces to desist from using civilians as a human shield and subjecting them to indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombardment.
"An estimated 15,000 Tamil civilians are entrapped in the battle zones in the Chavakachcheri sector and are at considerable risk."