Sri Lanka ruled out a cease-fire with the Tamil Tigers despite growing reports of casualties among civilians trapped in the northern war zone, as the military pushed ahead with its offensive against the rebels.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa had urged the rebels to let the civilians leave the conflict zone by Saturday and guaranteed safe passage to all noncombatants. But the government insisted there would be no let up in its war to crush the rebels and end the country's 25-year-old civil war.
"We are determined not to have a cease-fire, and we are determined to eradicate terrorism in Sri Lanka," Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told reporters Friday.
The military ousted the rebels, who have been fighting for a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, from all major towns after heavy battles in recent months.