The United Nations evacuated hundreds of severely wounded civilians from behind rebel lines in Sri Lanka on Thursday as government troops fought to secure final victory over the Tamil Tigers. Human rights bodies have called for immediate steps by both the Colombo government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to save up to 250,000 civilians trapped in the combat zone in the northeast of the island. About 350 critically wounded civilians, including 50 children, crossed the front lines," UN spokesman Gordon Weiss said, adding that the evacuations were the result of lengthy negotiations with the rebels.
A convoy of ambulances had been trapped for days behind Tiger front lines in Mullaittivu district, with the rebels refusing permission for it to leave.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which provided escorts for the mercy mission, said it was important to keep up such convoys.>>>
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