`We will never surrender'

ColomboColombo, Apr. 21: Though there are no comments on the pro-rebel Web site that the movement uses to issue its statements, official communiqués and news reports, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Tuesday said that it would not surrender to the Sri Lanka armed forces, and added that their leader V. Prabhakaran was still alive and directing the counter-offensive in Puthumattalam despite an army noon deadline for surrender.

“We will never surrender and will fight till we can. The international community must intervene in the issue,” a statement reportedly issued by the rebel outfit said.

The rebel statement came as Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotbaya Rajapakse categorically said today the Prabhakaran will now have to surrender or perish.

“If he surrenders it is good, otherwise, he can commit suicide. If he tries to fight, he will perish. If he surrenders we will take him in custody. We will have a genuine trail, he said.

Rajapakse also said that New Delhi is being kept informed about the military offensive on the Tamil Tigers.

“We have kept Indian government in brief. In a daily basis we have very good relations between the National Security Advisor (M. K. Narayanan) and Foreign secretary (Shiv Shankar Menon) and I constantly speak to them,” he said.

“I appeal to other countries especially Western and international community that we can solve our own problems. Don’t put hands in our internal problem and they have no rights to do that. Let them mind their own business,” Rajapakse said.

The spokesman for the military, Brigadier Udayan Nayakkara, said: "The onus is on Prabhakaran to avert mass murder. There is no question of mercy for Prabhakaran. We are being very careful. Our main concern is to free civilians."

The Tamil Tiger Chief now has fewer options before him. He can seek an amnesty deal with the Sri Lankan Government or use Sri Lankan hostages as a bargaining chip with government. In an extreme step, he may flee to India or to other foreign countries, or may surrender before the International Court of Justice.

Prabhakaran and his forces have been locked in a major offensive with the Sri Lankan Army for more than six months and lives of civilians being used as human shields by the Tamil Tigers have also been lost in the crossfire.

Monday saw a mass exodus of about 35,000 Tamil civilians fleeing the no-fire zones, a move looked upon by the country’s govt as a sign of rebellion and thus signalling the LTTE’s end.

the Indian government is in constant touch with their Sri Lankan counterparts to resolve the crisis.

The Sri Lankan envoy to India Jaisinghe is keeping New Delhi in the loop about the ground situation in Sri Lanka and India’s envoy to Sri Lanka Alok Prasad is in touch with New Delhi briefing the Foreign Ministry on the ground situation. Minister of State for External Affairs, Anand Sharma, said Tuesday that the Indian Government is carefully monitoring the emerging situation in Sri Lanka, and was well aware and concerned about the plight of civilian Tamils in the island nation.

He, however, said that Prabhakaran is a proclaimed offender and the LTTE is a terrorist outfit and it should be treated on par with such other organisations,"

Hiss comment to a television channel came as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi sent a telegram to the Centre warning both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to help halt the war in Lanka.

In a telegram to Gandhi, Singh and External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, Karunanidhi said the Indian government should issue an ultimatum to Colombo to halt the war in Lanka immediately.

The DMK chief also urged the UN and the international community to intervene immediately to halt violence in Sri Lanka.

Congress spokesperson Veerappa Moily said that India is keeping a close watch on the developments in Lanka and that no measure will be taken in haste.

Moily said that they have always asked that the Tamilians in Lanka should be protected. He fruther said that Tamilians in Sri Lanka must not be hurt in the offensive.

Sri Lankan forces on Tuesday launched new offensives and captured more territory from the Tamil Tigers as thousands of trapped civilians continued to flee the northern war zone.

Minutes after the expiry of the ultimatum to LTTE Supremo V Prabhakaran to lay down arms, Sri Lankan forces seized Puthumathalan hospital and breached the eastern coast of the no-fire zone, a government spokesman said.

The Lankan forces attack virtually sliced the small 17 sq kilometers strip of land held by the Tigers into two and came as the number of people fleeing the war zone crossed a record figure of 52,000. (ANI)