Sri Lankan president says war nearly over

May 7, 2009 (AFP) – The president of Sri Lanka said Thursday the island’s long-running war against the separatist Tamil Tigers was “rapidly” nearing its end.

Sri Lanka’s main Tamil moderate party meanwhile demanded an immediate truce, saying a final assault against Tiger rebels would inevitably lead to more civilian deaths.

The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), a pro-government party, urged the president to allow the UN to arrange a rebel surrender.

TULF leader V. Anandasangari said at least 170 Tamil civilians had been killed and 951 wounded during four days of fighting last week.

“The only option you now have, if you want to bring out the civilians safely, is to get the UN to… persuade the LTTE to release the people and in return offer a general amnesty to whoever surrenders to the forces,” Anandasangari said in a letter to the president.

“The so-called fire-free zone is under the control of the LTTE and they get mixed with the civilians, making it impossible for the forces to separate the LTTE and attack them without harming the civilians,” he said.

“In the present situation any attempt to attack the LTTE will result in