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Sri Lanka's Ruling Party Wins Provincial Polls

  • VOA News

Sri Lanka's ruling party swept provincial elections on Saturday in polls that are seen as a referendum on the government's stepped-up military campaign against the Tamil rebels.

Election results released Sunday show that President Mahinda Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance won the majority of seats in both the Central and North Western provincial councils.

In recent months, government troops have scored major victories against Tamil rebels. The military says the Tamil Tigers are now contained in a roughly 300-square-kilometer swath of northeastern jungle, surrounded by troops. Aid agencies have expressed concern for the fate of an estimated 250,000 civilians cornered along with the rebels.

Eyewitnesses say civilians have poured into government-run refugee camps that no longer have enough drinkable water.

Sri Lanka's minister of disaster management (Mahinda Samarasinghe) has dismissed accusations that a humanitarian crisis is looming.

The Defense Ministry has said that hundreds of civilians have fled fighting in the north in recent days.

And the Sri Lankan government says its refugee camps are prepared to receive as many as 150,000 civilians.

Sri Lanka's military says it is close to crushing Tamil rebels and their 25-year campaign for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka.

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