Sri Lankan troops, Tigers trade fire as ceasefire ends

April 15, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops resumed their offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the northeast at the end of a 48-hour ceasefire, the two sides said early Wednesday. The government had wanted the Tigers to free civilians during the break in fighting, but military officials said there was no large exodus over the past two days. A military spokesman said security forces restarted operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website said both sides began exchanging rocket and gunfire as the military’s unilateral two-day ceasefire ended at midnight.

After losing large swathes of territory they once controlled, the remaining guerrillas are now boxed into a narrow strip of jungle in the northeast where they are vastly outnumbered.

A rebel demand for a permanent truce was rejected by the government.

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse, who called the ceasefire only to coincide with the traditional New Year on Monday and Tuesday, said his troops were on the verge of total victory.

The Tigers have been accused of holding tens of thousands of civilians in the shrinking territory still under their co