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Fears for civilians trapped by Sri Lankan offensive

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Fears for civilians trapped by Sri Lankan offensive

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The Sri Lankan army is continuing a fierce campaign to crush the Tamil Tigers, despite diplomatic pressure for the fighting to stop so tens of thousands of civilians can escape the battle zone.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been pinned-down into an area of less than 13 square kilometres on the northeast coast. It is all that is left of the self-declared independent state that the Tigers have been fighting to create since the early 1970s for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils. The Indian Foreign Secretary and National Security Adviser have gone to Colombo to push for peace, even though Delhi considers the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organisation. Caught in the middle of the conflict, civilian refugees. The UN believes 50,000 are being held as human shields by the Tamil Tigers as Sri Lankan forces close in on their shrinking territory. Both sides accuse the other of firing on refugees, though independent confirmation is difficult to come by. But the Tigers have promised no surrender. And Sri Lanka has ruled out any humanitarian ceasefire. The UN says nearly 6,500 civilians have been killed in the last three months alone, as this decades-long war enters its final stage.