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Sri Lanka vows to fight until rebel leaders captured

Sri Lanka told Britain and France that it would keep up its military offensive until the leaders of the rebel Tamil Tigers have been captured ”dead or alive”, a press report in Colombo said on Thursday.

The privately run Island newspaper said Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse made it clear to the visiting British and French foreign ministers that international calls for a ceasefire were premature.

Rajapakse said a truce would only help the Tamil Tigers’ founder and leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, 54, who is believed to be holed up with his last remaining fighters on the island’s north-east coast.

”After 30 years, the time has come finally for Prabhakaran and other terrorist leaders to be captured dead or alive and the government will not stop until that end is achieved,” Rajapakse told the newspaper.

The Tigers have been driven back by a Sri Lankan military onslaught that earlier this year dismantled the rebels’ de facto state.

The French and British ministers left Colombo early on Thursday after a visit in which they urged the government to halt the fighting and allow aid workers access to tens of thousands of affected civilians.

Sri Lanka’s leaders say they are on the cusp of victory after a 37-year armed campaign by the Tigers for an independent Tamil homeland. — AFP



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