Mannar civilians move to safe areas
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 November 1999, 19:58 GMT]
Thousands of residents of Vankalai have moved to Mannar town and Pesalai throughout today said sources. Sri Lankan government officials in Mannar said 7000 people have moved there from Vankalai on the mainland and around 2500 of these have sought refuge at the St. Sebastian church on the island.
Troops from the Special Task Force (STF) stationed in Vankalai had not allowed the residents to leave up to yesterday, said sources.
But the exodus had begun as soon as the STF gave permission for the people to leave this morning.
Meanwhile an estimated fifteen thousand people from Uyilankulam, Murunkan and neighbouring areas have moved towards the villages of Puthukamam, Vanchikulam and other villages, south of the Mannar-Mathavachia road, said sources.
The civilians are moving away from areas highlighted by the Liberation Tigers as unsafe, said sources.
LTTE forces have been moving steadily towards the main Sri Lanka Army (SLA) base in the area at Thallady, with a number of peripheral areas coming under their control, according to broadcasts by the Voice o Tigers (VoT) radio.
Residents in Mannar said the sounds of fighting in the district had eased today.
However all transports on the Mannar-Vavuniya road has been interrupted for the past 3 days, they said.