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For once, LTTE & army call for truce
T V Sriram in Colombo | October 19, 2007 12:30 IST
Following a truce between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and security forces, the International Red Cross has agreed to resume duties from Friday at the vital Omanthai crossing, thus bringing relief to thousands of Tamils in the tiger rebels-dominated Vanni region of Northern Sri Lanka [Images].
After a meeting with the LTTE and the army on Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross received security guarantees to resume its duties at Omanthai, ICRC spokesman Davide Vignatti said in a statement.
LTTE-controlled areas in the Vanni were in danger of being completely shut off from the rest of the country, indefinitely, after the ICRC announced it had withdrawn from the Omanthai entry and exit point that links it with the rest of the country.
This was as a result of an attempted security breach by the LTTE on Wednesday evening when they attempted to advance past defence lines north of Uyliankulam, in Mannar in North-Western part of the country, the Defence Ministry said.
The crossing point, situated along the highway, which was kept open five days a week to facilitate civilian and humanitarian assistance, was the only entry route open to the Vanni, after the closure of the Uyliankulam route in north-west last month and Muhamalai route in Jaffna since fresh fighting erupted in the north.
In August, the ICRC agreed to extend its presence at Omanthai crossing point in Vavuniya district to five days a week after it was reduced to three day a week in June following a number of security incidents that jeopardised the safety of civilians crossing the lines.