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Last updated: 14 September, 2008 - Published 12:12 GMT
 
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Protesters halt UN withdrawal
 
Gordon Weiss
UN says the pullout is temporarily being held up by the protests
The United Nations in Sri Lanka says its withdrawal from the LTTE-held areas was halted due to protests by hundreds of civilians who block UN offices in Kilinochchi.

UN spokesman in Colombo, Gordon Weiss, told the BBC that the pullout was temporarily being held up by the protests, but the agency's intention was to withdraw from the area.

Tamil Tigers on Saturday said civilian protests continued for a second day against the withdrawal of the United Nations aid agencies from rebel-held territory in the north of the country.

Tamil Tigers said the protesters, who had gathered outside the offices of the agencies, demanded the aid personnel to stay and continue their humanitarian work.

The UN began pulling out on Thursday after the government said it could not guarantee the safety of aid workers because of increased fighting near the main rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.

The government says its employees in the region will provide required aid to more than a hundred-and-sixty-thousand people displaced in the current fighting.

Government forces are conducting a major offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels in the north and say their forces are poised only a few kilometres from the rebel headquarters at Kilinochchi.

 
 
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