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LTTE lays landmines to stop fleeing civilians

LTTE hold 300 patients hostage

*Prevents ICRC, UN transferring them from Puthukkudiyiruppu to Vavuniya

*Army offers full facilities but Tigers refuse to release patients

ICRC and UN officials, who went to Puthukkudiyiruppu area to fetch some three hundred patients to be transferred to Vavuniya Hospital for further treatment were refused and turned away by Tiger terrorists yesterday afternoon while holding all those patients captive as 'human shields'.

Those ICRC and UN officials with the intention of bringing those 300 patients in Puthukkudiyiruppu uncleared areas to Vauniya on 16 ambulances, seven trucks and one other vehicle had reached the LTTE roadblock to transfer those patients to vehicles provided by the troops in cleared areas.

Troops serving cleared areas in Puthukkudiyiruppu responded positively and simultaneously organised 12 ambulances and five buses to pick the sick for further passage to Vavuniya hospital after ICRC and UN officials brought them to the cleared areas on their vehicles between 10.00 a.m. - 12.00 noon yesterday. Three doctors, 12 nurses and eight attendants on those vehicles, sent from Vavuniya awaited at the Puthukkudiyiruppu front-line, held by the troops expecting to receive the patients, but to no avail.

Finally, ICRC and UN officials contacting military authorities have reported that the patients on 16 ambulances, World Food Programme (WFP) trucks and another vehicle were being held, detained and prevented from entering cleared areas by gun-carrying LTTE men who have had heated arguments with ICRC and UN officials over non-release.

A request from ICRC and UN officials for further extension of time allocation by another hour or so for the movement of those patients was also immediately granted by the troops in view of the humanitarian nature of the whole mission.

However, by about 1,30 p.m. yesterday final hopes for secure of the release ended in smoke, as all ICRC and UN official had to give-up the idea and informed the troops of their failure to get the release of those vehicles with patients to move into Vavuniya Hospital, as scheduled and co-ordinated, following an ICRC request made to the Wanni Security Forces Headquarters.

Troops, despite several security risks, involved in accepting the challenge of dispatching those patients, resident outside the demarcated 'No Fire Zone' were all out to extend their fullest co-operation for the vehicle movement after strengthening security all along the A-9 road, but the Tigers with the sinister motive of causing havoc and bloodbath taking them as human shields refrained the ICRC and UN from embarking on this humanitarian mission.

ICRC and UN delegations that failed in this humanitarian mission included four expatriates including a few local workers who had now vowed to take the matter up with their headquarters overseas.

It was just four days ago, the UN in a strongly-worded letter asked the LTTE to immediately stop harassing UN staff engaged in humanitarian missions in LTTE held areas.

Courtesy - Daily News

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