Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: ZENET
| Date: 20000420

Thousands of Civilians Stranded in Villages in Midst of Crossfire ROME, ( The Sri Lankan army has blockaded thousands of civilians in their villages in the Jaffna war zone, according to Jesuit Refugees Service (JRS). Over the past three weeks there has been fierce combat in the Jaffna peninsula, where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are attempting to reconquer territory disputed by both sides. Estimates say there are some 5,000 people trapped in the war zone.

There have been numerous protests and appeals to the army to allow the people to leave the villages in the war zone. The army responded by permitting some 7,000-8,000 persons to move to a safe area. The University of Jaffna's Student Union and an alliance of some 40 NGOs have organized widespread protests and strikes in Jaffna on behalf of the people trapped in the war zone.

Civilians continue to be the principal victims of the civil war in Sri Lanka, which has already cost the lives of 50,000 persons and caused the displacement of 650,000. Thousands have been displaced by the latest clashes between the army and Tamil Tigers. Led by Caritas-Jaffna, 14 NGOs are assisting the displaced, according to the Jesuit source.

On April 12, 8 people died and 72 were wounded in a grenade attack during a concert in Trincomalee, in celebration of the Tamil New Year. It is not yet known who is responsible for the attack.