Ruling out a ceasefire, Sri Lanka on Saturday said it was "hoping against hope" that the LTTE would abide by the 48-hour deadline set by it to release civilians in the war zone and warned the rebels of severe action if they failed to deliver.
The Lankan government said it will liberate areas still held by the LTTE without causing any harm to civilians if the rebels failed to meet the deadline. "We will liberate those areas (still held by LTTE) and free them," minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe told media-persons in Colombo.
He also made it clear that the "window period" of 48 hours was not a ceasefire and said the government would go against the rebels after the deadline without harming the Tamil civilians.
"We will not target civilians while we go ahead to free the areas if the LTTE does not meet the time given for them to release civilians. We have even otherwise not targeted civilians," the Minister said. "We are determined not to have ceasefire. We are determined to eradicate terrorism," he said.
President Mahinda Rajapakse had on Thursday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the LTTE to surrender and allow free movement of civilians trapped in conflict areas and assured a "safe passage" to the civilians to a secure environment.
Meanwhile, the LTTE said only a permanent ceasefire mooted by the international community and negotiations followed by it would resolve the conflict as envisaged by it. "The announcement (48-hour deadline) of the Sri Lankan Government was aimed at deceiving the international community and to suppress the uprising of the 70 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu," political head B Nadesan was quoted as saying by pro-rebel Tamilnet.com.