Sri Lanka faces refugee crisis as fighting erupts on two new fronts

COLOMBO, Aug 11, 2006 (AFP) – Tamil Tigers Friday warned of a humanitarian crisis after 42,000 people were displaced by a surge in violence that has left Sri Lanka’s truce in tatters, as fighting erupted on two new fronts.

There were similar gatherings elsewhere too.”

The latest fighting has been the worst in Sri Lanka since a truce was agreed in February 2002. An estimated 60,000 people have been killed since the Tamil insurgency began around three decades ago.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they had appealed to relief organisations to rush aid to those displaced in rebel-held areas in northeastern Trincomalee district, but the government was blocking them.

“We know the agencies are ready to move in but the government is not allowing them,” Tiger spokesman S. Puleedevan told AFP from the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi. “People are angry, people are desperate.”

He said the LTTE had also asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to help treat some 200 people wounded in air and artillery attacks carried out by government security forces in Trincomalee on Thursday.

Shelling had subsided there Friday after the army suffered casualties in Thursday’s exchange