Update: Sri Lanka's state television station has announced that Tamil Tiger
rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is dead. Earlier media reports said
he was killed while trying to flee the war zone early Monday in an
ambulance. On Sunday the rebels' international relations
chief said in a statement on the Web site TamilNet that their battle has reached "its bitter end." President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared victory on Saturday. | More from VOA News
Transcript of radio broadcast, posted 15 May 2009:
This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Sri Lankan army has been leading what it called a "final push" against Tamil
Tiger rebels. A military spokesman told VOA that the army hoped to free all
civilians trapped in rebel territory by Sunday. The military said troops were moving
in from the north and the south on the narrow area of coastline still held by
On Friday, the United Nations
human rights office called for an investigation of possible war crimes in Sri
Lanka. The office said the behavior of the military and the rebels could meet
the legal meaning of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
U.N. spokesman expressed concern about reports that government shelling has
killed civilians. He also expressed concern over reports of rebels shooting those
trying to flee to safety.
week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent his top aide to press for an end
to the Sri Lankan conflict.
Almost two hundred thousand Tamil civilians in the
north have been displaced since fighting intensified in January. Some people
have been able to escape across the waters of a lagoon to a
government-controlled area. But thousands of civilians reportedly have been
killed and many thousands more wounded.
International Red Cross has described the humanitarian situation as "unimaginable."
The Red Cross has been unable to bring in food or remove the wounded and sick
from the area of fighting.
Lanka has been seeking a two billion dollar loan from the International
Monetary Fund to help its economy. American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
said this week that this was, in her words, "not an appropriate time to
consider" the loan. But I.M.F. chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Friday
that Sri Lanka clearly needs help. Reuters news agency reported that he said the
I.M.F. is working to find a solution in the next few weeks.
Sri Lanka is an island of twenty-one million people in
the Indian Ocean. Three-fourths are ethnic Sinhalese. The conflict began more
than twenty-five years ago, when minority Tamils began fighting for an
The Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam once controlled a large area of the north and east. But now, military
officials say the area held by the Tamil Tigers has been reduced to just a few
square kilometers of beachfront.
government says the military offensive is also a hostage rescue operation. It
says the rebels are hiding among civilians. On Wednesday, President Obama
deplored the rebels' use of civilians as human shields. But he also called on
the Sri Lankan government to act responsibly.
There have been reports in recent days that shelling killed
hundreds of civilians. On Wednesday, artillery shells hit the only remaining
hospital in the area of fighting.
government promised last month to end its use of heavy weapons. It says the
rebels are the ones killing innocent people. The rebels blame the government.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm