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International Forum Discuss 35,000 civilians flee as army moves on Tamils at the Political Forums; 35,000 civilians flee as army moves on Tamils - Asia, World - The Independent Sri Lankan military gives Tamil Tigers ...

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Old 04-21-2009, 05:53 AM
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Default 35,000 civilians flee as army moves on Tamils

35,000 civilians flee as army moves on Tamils - Asia, World - The Independent

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Sri Lankan military gives Tamil Tigers and their leader 24 hours to surrender or face crushing attack

It began with ones and twos, small groups of people rushing to escape. Then the groups got larger. Very quickly the thin line of people had become a flood.

That was the scene as thousands of civilians trapped inside Sri Lanka's war zone dramatically escaped yesterday morning, just hours after the country's Defence Minister said he had given the "green light" for a rescue operation. Precisely how many escaped was impossible to verify as journalists and most aid groups are prevented from reaching the area, but President Mahinda Rajapaksa said he believed up to 35,000 people had crossed into government-controlled territory, describing the exodus as the "largest-ever hostage rescue mission in history".

As the government revealed remarkable images taken by pilotless drones flying over the so-called "no-fire zone" that it said showed thousands of people fleeing, the authorities also announced a 24-hour ultimatum for the rebels and their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, to surrender or face crushing military action. "We have given Prabhakaran 24 hours to get out of town. The next step will be to remove [the rebels]," said a defence ministry spokesman.
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