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Ensure safety of Tamils caught in war zone, says Pranab

February 05, 2009 22:29 IST

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With the Sri Lankan forces poised to capture the remaining strongholds of the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam, India on Thursday told Colombo to ensure the safety of the Tamil civilians who are caught in the war zone in the north of the island.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee [Images] also asked the LTTE [Images] to allow civilians in the areas held by it to cross over to the safe zones of the Sri Lankan government.

"We are concerned with the plight of the civilians in Sri Lanka [Images] and have asked them that along with the military exercise against the terrorist organisation LTTE, the Lankan government will have to ensure that the life and properties of civilians are not put in danger," Mukherjee told media persons in New Delhi [Images].

Mukherjee also expressed hope that the Sri Lankan government will make efforts to achieve a political solution to the decades-old ethnic conflict.

He said the civilians are actually facing a very difficult situation after being caught in the fight between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE.

Mukherjee's comments came a day after the last functioning hospital in Pudukudiyyiruppu in LTTE-held Wanni area was attacked with cluster bombs.

International aid agencies say around 2,50,000 civilians are caught in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE, but the Lankan government contradicts the figure.

Mukherjee said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured him that there will be no shelling in the safe zone.

He said the ultimate solution to the Sri Lankan problem lies in devolving powers to the northern and eastern regions according to the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka accord and the 13th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution.

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