Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sri Lanka says Tigers 'infiltrating' media, aid organisations

COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lanka's top defence official has accused international media and aid organisations of siding with the Tamil Tigers, a report said Saturday, as the military pushed its offensive against the rebels.

A day after an angry mob stoned the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Colombo, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse said the Tigers were infiltrating relief agencies and news organisations.

"There is a well-orchestrated campaign to discredit the government and the security forces and bring pressure on it to declare a ceasefire by LTTE agents who have infiltrated international organisations and media institutions," Rajapakse told the state-run Daily News.

Colombo has rejected calls from foreign governments and agencies to halt its offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to avoid civilian casualties, saying it is on the verge of victory.

Sri Lanka has also resisted calls for a "no fire period" to allow civilians to get out of the conflict zone, while rights groups and foreign governments have accused the Tigers of holding civilians as human shields.

Rajapakse said people allegedly in the pay of the Tigers were "fabricating stories to invent a scenario of a human catastrophe and are disseminating false information."

The defence secretary is leading the government's crackdown against the Tigers, who lost their mini state last month in the face of a military offensive that has pushed the rebels back to a narrow strip of land.

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