Cease-fire in Sri Lanka''s no-fire zone should continue: Mukherjee

Cease-fire in Sri Lanka''s no-fire zone should continue: MukherjeeKolkata, Apr. 17 : The Government of India is clear that the cease-fire in the "No Fire" zone in Sri Lanka should continue in the interests of the Tamil citizens of that country, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here today.

Addressing a press conference, Mukherjee said India is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka, and added that New Delhi has repeatedly expressed its concern over the safety of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka and sought to ensure safe passage to secure zones for the civilian population which has suffered a heavy toll in the ongoing conflict.

The minister said India had welcomed the announcement by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse of a cessation of hostilities for the Tamil and Sinhala New Year over the last two days.

The Government of Sri Lanka, Mukherjee said, must extend this pause in hostilities to prevent further casualties and enable trapped civilians to leave the area to secure locations. Continuation of precipitate military actions leading to further civilian casualties at this time would be totally unacceptable.

While it is incumbent on the LTTE to release all civilians and IDPs under their control, the Government of Sri Lanka cannot be oblivious to the evolving human tragedy and the fate of the Tamil civilian population caught up in the so-called "No Fire" zone, Mukherjee pointed out.

The Government of India has extended humanitarian assistance, including medicines, food and other supplies to the civilian population trapped in the conflict zone.

A 62- member emergency medical unit from India has treated more than 1500 serious medical cases among civilians in Pulmoddai in Sri Lanka. India will soon send another consignment of 40,000 family packs to the affected civilians in Northern Sri Lanka, Mukherjee promised.

The Government of India, the minister said, expected the Government of Sri Lanka and others concerned to respond positively to the appeal for a continued ceasefire in the interest of the Tamils who are citizens of Sri Lanka. (ANI)