Heavy fighting resumes in Sri Lanka

Minister appoints Dr Swaminathan to IPACSL as Chairperson

April 15, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops resumed their all-out offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north of the island on Wednesday following a brief holiday ceasefire, officials said.

They were also consolidating positions in recently captured areas, and on Tuesday recovered several surface to air missiles and hundreds of landmines stored by the rebels.

The army says LTTE forces have retreated to the safe zone, and are using tens of thousands of civilians as a human shield. It said there was no hoped-for exodus of civilians from the area during the brief ceasefire.

“The military did not notice an exodus of civilians from the conflict area,” a military official said, adding that only 475 wounded civilians and their relatives were evacuated to safety by the International Red Cross on Tuesday. A military official said government forces were involved in “normal operations” aimed at finishing off the last of the separatist rebels.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website said both sides fired rockets and exchanged gunfire as a two-day ceasefire — called by President Mahinda Rajapakse to mark new year celebrations — ended at midnight.

“Heavy exchange of rocket and gunfire wa