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Sri Lankan Prime Minister: Military Has Rebel Leader Trapped

Sri Lanka says Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is surrounded by government troops in a small strip of coastline in the country's north.

Citing intelligence information, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told parliament Tuesday that Prabhakaran is trapped in the rebel-held territory. He said the rebels are putting up stiff resistance, but that the government is taking all possible steps to ensure Prabhakaran gets caught.

Tens of thousands of civilians are thought to be trapped in the region. There was no mention of any casualties.

International aid agencies say conditions for Tamils displaced by the fighting are improving, but there are concerns about food, water, sanitation and shelter.

Tamil Tiger rebels issued a statement Tuesday saying civilians in the war zone were facing starvation because the Sri Lankan government was allegedly blocking food and medical supplies.

The rebels called on the international community to extend political and logistical support to ethnic Tamils living overseas who were planning to deliver aid to the war zone.

Tamil rebels have been fighting for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka since 1983. Tens of thousands of people have died in the civil war.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.