Sri Lanka: Tamil territory under siege, bombardment

The TamilNet news service reports that Red Cross and other aid and medical evacuation vehicles are being barred access to the northern pocket of Sri Lanka still held by the Tamil Tiger rebels, which has come under heavy bombardment in recent days. Sri Lankan army forces are blocking all traffic in and out of the zone, while government air-strikes continue. An unknown number of wounded civilians apparently remain trapped in the besieged pocket. (TamilNet, Jan. 7)

Sri Lankan government troop seized the Tigers’ de facto capital, Kilinochchi, last week. Battles continue for the Elephant Pass and rebel-held Jaffna region along the coast to the north. The Tigers have been in control of the pass since 2000.

Since the fall of Kilinochchi, two bomb blasts have gone off in Colombo, the island’s capital. One exploded in a market place Jan. 2, leaving at least three civilians wounded. (Bloomberg, Jan. 5; IBN, Jan. 3)

Attacks on the press are also mounting. Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor of the opposition Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot Jan. 8 morning by two gunman on a motorcycle as he drove to his office. He remains in critical condition. Two days earlier more than a dozen gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenades raided a private TV station and destroyed much of its equipment. (AP, Jan. 8)

See our last post on Sri Lanka.