COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, May 15 (UPI) -- The Tamil Tigers appeared close to final defeat Friday night as the Sri Lankan Army cornered the last militants on a mile-long beach, officials said.
The LIberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, which once controlled about one-third of the country and had its own boats and planes, now appears to be down to a few hundred fighters surrounded by government troops, The Times of London reported.
"There is hand-to-hand combat along the beach," Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesman, told The Times. "They will soon be surrounded and face no option other than to surrender, to be annihilated or to commit suicide. They are slowly giving up."
The government, eager to put an end to the long civil war, ignored U.N. calls for a cease-fire to allow civilians to get out of the area. At least 50,000 were believed to be trapped in the area.
A U.N. envoy arrived in Sri Lanka Friday for possible cease-fire talks. Aid workers say ethnic Tamil civilians remain in danger from civil war fighting. Vijay Nambiar, the chief of staff to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was expected to meet with senior government officials in Colombo, The New York Times reported.
Thurairajah Varatharajah, a government doctor, told the Times by telephone that shelling had forced him out of the improvised hospital where he had been working.
"They are dying without proper treatment. Dead bodies are all lying on the floor. We are unable to bury or clear the dead bodies." he said.