Sri Lanka asks Tigers to surrender after taking key town

November 15, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president on Saturday asked Tamil Tigers to surrender after troops claimed re-taking a strategically-important town from the separatist guerrillas following months of heavy fighting. President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a televised address to the nation that security forces had wrested control of the town of Pooneryn and the main northwestern coastal A-32 route in the morning.

“The entire A-32 road and Pooneryn was captured by our security forces,” the president said.

“On this occasion, I ask (Tiger chief Velupillai) Prabhakaran to lay down arms and immediately come for talks.”

“The best thing he can do for the (Tamil) people in the north is to lay down arms and surrender,” he said.

Pooneryn had been a Tiger stronghold since 1993 when the rebels overran the main military base after killing some 700 soldiers in a three-day offensive codenamed “unceasing waves”.

The separatist rebels had also used the coastal area to launch artillery strikes against a military airbase on the northern edge of the government-controlled Jaffna peninsula vulnerable to long-range attacks.

Defence officials said the Tigers appeared to have removed their 130-millimeter a