TITLE=LANKA/ VAVUNIYA (L-O)
INTRO: Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels have asked civilians
who fled the northern town of Vavuniya to return to
their homes. From Colombo, Vandana Chopra reports the
residents fled following threats to bombard town.
TEXT: The clandestine Voice of Tiger radio, the rebel
mouthpiece, (Wednesday) thanked people for
cooperating. It said the rebels would inform people
when they plan to attack the town in the future.
Last week, after repeated threats of attack from the
rebels, up to 100-thousand people fled the bustling
Tamil-majority town of Vavuniya -- 210-kilometers
north of the capital, Colombo.
The rebel radio broadcast urged the residents to
return to avoid the difficult conditions they are
living in away from their homes.
The announcement also said that their main targets are
military bases and advised people to avoid living in
close proximity to military establishments.
Sri Lankan military official's say after the rebel
threats to attack the town, the army moved
reinforcements to the area and strengthened security
in the region.
Meanwhile, government officials say the situation in
Vavuniya has improved and a large number of people
have moved back to the town. A defense ministry
statement says 60-percent of the government officials
have reported for duty and most of the government
departments are functioning satisfactorily.
Places in the Northern Wanni region came under rebel
threat after the guerillas launched their latest
offensive, code-named "Unceasing wave 3", last month.
The rebels have won control of several areas since the
first of November.
The guerillas have been fighting for a separate
homeland for the minority Tamil community in Sri
Lanka's North and East since 1983. (SIGNED)
17-Nov-1999 09:00 AM EDT (17-Nov-1999 1400 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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