Colombo: Bowing to international pressure, Sri Lanka on Wednesday said it had "drastically" reduced its troops’ presence in the former war zones of Tamil-dominated Jaffna peninsula from 50,000 to 15,000.
"The number of troops in the Jaffna Peninsula, at present has been reduced to around 15,000, a reduction of over 60 percent troops deployed at the beginning of the humanitarian operation," military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya has said.
He said at the peak of the military campaign launched against the Tamil tigers in 2006, there were 50,000 troops deployed in the area, whose strength had been brought down to 15,000.
The Army spokesman said that troops had been thinned down after making a "threat assessment, ground situation and capabilities in meeting these threats”.
Western nations had recently demanded that Colombo thin out forces from the former war zones in view of improvement in the situation there.
The troop withdrawal comes even as Sri Lanka government recently protested over comments by British High Commissioner John Rankin, who had suggested that the government should thin out forces from the Tamil areas. The envoy had also suggested that the military presence in the north and east also be reduced to the levels in the south.
The High Commissioner was summoned to the foreign office to lodge a formal protest over his remarks.