Civilians flee rebel-controled area in Sri Lanka's north

Tamil civilians are fleeing the Tamil Tiger-controled areas in the face of advancing military operations, defense officials said Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

Some 600 civilians arrived in government-controled area during the early hours of Wednesday, defense officials said. They had come under the care of the Army's 58 division who are now in the forward march in Mullaithivu, the last hold for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels. The civilians would be sent to the welfare camps after necessary security checks.

Both the Sri Lankan government and international rights groups have condemned the LTTE for holding Tamil civilians as human shields in the current military campaign.

The government said around 120,000 civilians are being kept by the rebels against their wishes. The international aid agencies said around 230,000 civilians have been internally displaced in the Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts.

The troops fighting the Tigers in Mullaithivu's Puthkudyiruppu area have found a large rebel training camp, military said.

The LTTE have lost almost 95 per cent of the territory they controlled in the north and east provinces since the government stepped up its military campaign in 2006.

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