The government is to establish a gateway for an expected mass exodus of civilians from the Wanni and facilitate the process by creating a no war zone , while challenging the LTTE to leave civilians out of the ongoing conflict.
The military said if the LTTE was really concerned about the welfare of civilians in the Wanni it should allow residents in the area to freely crossover to cleared areas.
We will drop leaflets to educate the public on our strategy which includes escape routes for them like we did when liberating Sampur, Government Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said while declining to elaborate on military tactics due to security reasons.
Minister Rambukwella admitted that to minimize civilian casualties in operations to liberate the north the government was compelled to take maximum precaution and establish escape routes for civilians before making the final push.
Meanwhile, military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said, If the LTTE is concerned about the welfare of civilians in un-cleared areas, this is the time for it to allow civilians to move into cleared areas.
He said instead of allowing civilians to enter cleared areas the rebels were preventing them from doing so.
The LTTE is deliberately using innocent civilians as human shields and blame the military when civilians are injured, he said.
Brigadier Nanayakkara also urged civilians in the LTTE-held Wanni areas to come to cleared areas without remaining under the terrorist grip.
He said the military had received information that the Tigers were forcibly collecting blood from civilians in the Wanni areas to treat wounded cadres.
Claiming that civilians in the Wanni region were currently undergoing severe hardship due to LTTE atrocities the spokesman said the time had come for them to walk escape into cleared areas.
Brigadier Nanayakkara said some 100 civilians had already arrived in cleared areas in Mannar and Vavuniya and action had been taken to provide them with food and shelter.
He said civilians could cross over to cleared areas using the Omanthai entry/exit point as well as by the sea route in Mannar.