Sri Lanka Military Cuts Off Rebel Sea Escape
Tigers lose access to sea as military vows to end 25-year war by nightfall
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2009 7:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Sri Lankan forces took control of the island's entire coastline today for the first time in decades, sealing the Tamil Tigers in a tiny pocket of territory and cutting off the possibility of a sea escape by the rebels' top leaders, the AP reports. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has vowed to defeat the remaining rebel fighters and end the 25-year-old civil war by tonight.

As the war has entered its final stages, tens of thousands of civilians have fled intense shelling of the last bit of territory under rebel control, a 1.2-square mile strip between a lagoon and the sea. Tens of thousands are still trapped in the sliver of land amid the unrelenting artillery bombardments and the Red Cross has warned of "an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" for the wounded trapped without treatment.