U.N. convoy carrying Sri Lanka wounded leaves war zone
A U.N. convoy carrying hundreds of people wounded in shelling between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan military left the war zone Thursday after being held back two days ago, the United Nations said.
"The convoy just crossed the frontline with hundreds of the civilians wounded by the fighting, including 50 critically wounded children, who are being moved to a Ministry of Health hospital in Vavuniya," U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss said.
Sri Lankan troops energized by a series of major victories have cornered the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a shrinking piece of jungle and are fighting to finish a war that is one of Asia's longest-running, reported Reuters.
But humanitarian agencies say about 250,000 civilians are trapped in the remaining 300 square km (115 sq miles) of LTTE territory. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says hundreds have been killed or wounded in the last week.
Many were stranded without adequate treatment in poorly equipped hospitals and the ICRC and United Nations arranged a convoy to carry them to a government hospital in Vavuniya, outside the war zone in the Indian Ocean island's north.
The LTTE Tuesday denied it permission to leave, saying it was not safe to go, after the army stopped firing for a brief period, the U.N. has said.