Skip to main content

India calls for Sri Lanka civilian safe zones

  • Story Highlights
  • India the sanctity of safe zones for civilians must be respected by both sides
  • Tamil rebels say they are willing to discuss a cease-fire
  • Both sides are accused of causing civilian casualties
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- India made a renewed plea Tuesday for the safe evacuation of civilians caught in Sri Lanka's war zone in fighting between government forces and Tamil rebels.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the sanctity of safe zones for civilians must be respected by both sides. The Indian government said it is working out logistics with Sri Lanka to supply medical aid to war victims.

Tamil rebels said Sunday they are ready to accept international calls for a cease-fire, but won't lay down their weapons without a political solution in the quarter-century-long civil war.

But the Sri Lankan government has not made any cease-fire offer as its troops press their offensive against Tamil forces in their remaining strongholds.

Government forces have claimed a series of victories in the past few weeks, pushing rebel forces into an ever-shrinking section of northern Sri Lanka as humanitarian groups have reported high levels of civilian casualties.

In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch criticized the Sri Lankan government for its "indiscriminate" killings of civilian as it attempts to fight the rebel movement. As the rebel stronghold continues to shrink, civilians are trapped in the cross-fire, HRW reported.

HRW also condemned the Tamil Tigers for its treatment of civilians. The organization's 45-page study said 2,000 civilians have been killed and 5,000 more have been wounded. Tens of thousands of others have fled the fighting.

Tamil rebels have fought for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority since 1983. The civil war has left more than 70,000 people dead.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print