UNITED NATIONS, April 3, 2009 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged Tamil rebel leaders to allow trapped civilians to move freely out of the conflict area of northern Sri Lanka. Earlier Friday, Sri Lankan troops captured a key village from the Tamil Tigers after heavy fighting that left at least 44 guerrillas dead while another 13 rebels were killed elsewhere, the military said.
Troops moved into Anandapuram, which the rebels had been using as a logistics base, after intense clashes on Thursday, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The LTTE had been putting up stiff resistance to prevent the army taking the village, the spokesman said. “The Secretary General calls upon the LTTE (Tamil rebels) leadership to allow civilians to leave the conflict area of their own free will,” said a statement issued by UN spokeswoman Michele Montas.
“The severe restrictions of the LTTE on their freedom of movement violate international law.”
Ban also deplored “the forced recruitment of civilians, particularly children.”
The UN statement said Ban “is deeply distressed by continuing reports from the Vanni region of Sri Lanka that civilians are at extreme risk, with heav