Sir Lanka has ordered its troops to stop using heavy weaponry against Tamil Tiger rebels trapped in a tiny coastal strip.International pressure had been mounting on the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers to end their conflict and avert further suffering to civilians. The rebel Tigers have accused the government of launching new attacks on the tiny coastal strip where they and tens of thousands of people are trapped. Officials have dismissed the claims and the group’s ceasefire offer, saying they must surrender. A UN delegation has met Sri Lankan ministers to urge a halt to the military campaign. But the government says the Tigers have repeatedly used pauses in the fighting to re-group. The UN, the US and others have said the military has previously shelled civilian areas and accused the Tigers of forcing people to fight, while shooting those who try to escape. Both sides deny the allegations. The UN believes nearly 6,500 have been killed in the conflict since the end of January.
Sri Lanka halts heavy fire over civilian concerns