COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lankan military leaders say they're in no hurry to storm a civilian safe zone that is being used as a refuge by Tamil rebels.
Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse said the government was determined to get the trapped civilians safely out of the area before they move in to confront the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighters, the BBC reported Monday.
"We have no plans of going into the safe zone immediately," Rajapakse told the British broadcaster. "Our aim is to get the civilians safely out of the no-fire zone so we are watching at the moment."
The comments came one day after Sri Lanka said it killed more than 400 rebels, including five senior commanders, in the Mullaitivu district, chasing the remaining Tamil rebels into the safe zone. More than 60,000 civilians have fled to government-run relief centers in recent days, the BBC said.
"I don't think the Tamil Tigers can be a viable force any more," Rajapakse said. "There are reports that there are lots of dissensions within the rebels. They can always surrender."
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