Special Report: Ceasefire over in Sri
COLOMBO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Around 15,000 refugees
displaced due to fighting between the Tamil Tigers and the government troops in
Sri Lanka's eastern province were gathered in Kantalai, 218 kmsfrom here, the
government relief officials said Saturday.
The refugees fled from Muttur, a Muslim dominated
town south of the eastern port city of Trincomalee on Friday as fighting between
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels and the government troops
"The people displaced are living in schools, mosques
and Buddhist temples, some temporary huts are also being put up", W.D.Sirisena,
a local aid worker, said over the telephone.
"They came in lorries, tractors and even carts",
Kantalai, 80 kms from Muttur, is a majority Sinhala
dominated town in the area and the Muslims who fled Muttur felt safe to be
The aid workers, however, said that facilities for
the refugees were barely adequate and the authorities are faced with a severe
Meanwhile the government said Saturday that fighting
in Muttur had receded and the government troops were in full control.
Brigadier Athula Jayawardena, the Director Operations
of the Army, said "The LTTErs have retreated after suffering heavily and Muttur
is fully under troops control.
The military said that some 152 rebels were killed
when they attempted to attack the Muttur jetty on Friday.
The Tamil press sources here quoted S. Elilan, the
Trincomalee district's LTTE political wing leader as saying that the rebel
organization had withdrawn from Muttur Saturday morning having completed a
limited operation in the Muslim dominated town.
Since Wednesday, when the LTTE decided to launch a
surprise attack on Muttur it was not clear until Saturday who was controlling
The military blamed the LTTE of infiltrating into
Muttur town disguised as civilians and using the local population as a human
shield to attack the troops.
The LTTE did not allow the Army to enter Muttur town
in large numbers, even an elite special forces unit of the Army found it
difficult with mortar and artillery fire which rained on them from the nearby
LTTE controlled Sampur area.
Although no credible casualty figures are available
over 200 are believed to have been killed by the fighting.
The attack on Muttur came a day after the LTTE
attacked a Sri Lankan troop carrier vessel in the port of Trincomalee and in the
backdrop of the Army's advance into the rebel-held Verugal Aru area in the
eastern province since last Sunday.
The first open Army advance into rebel-held territory
since the February 2002 ceasefire was aimed at opening up an irrigation sluice
gate shut down by the rebels since 20 July.
The latest clashes between the two sides are the worst since the Norwegian backed peace process got underway. More than 64,000 people were killed in the armed separatist conflict since the mid 1980s until February 2002. Enditem