Thursday, April 16, 2009

FMs say Tamil Tigers using 'human shields'

LONDON (AFP) – The British and French foreign ministers said Wednesday that Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka are using civilians as human shields, which was preventing them from leaving the conflict zone.

In a joint statement issued in London, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner urged the Sri Lankan government to declare a new ceasefire to allow aid in and civilians out.

Sri Lankan security forces resumed their offensive against the Tigers on Wednesday after a 48-hour ceasefire, but Miliband and Kouchner said that had not been long enough for civilians to have moved to safety.

"We are deeply concerned that there was no large scale movement of civilians away from the conflict area to safety as we had hoped to see, in the short period allowed for the pause," the statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

"It is clear that the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) have been forcefully preventing civilians from leaving the conflict area and we deplore their determination to use civilians as a human shield."

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