COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan forces fought their way Wednesday into another village still held by Tamil Tiger rebels, an official said, as neighbouring India raised fears for civilians caught up in the war. Soldiers marched into the village of Visuamadu in the final phase of operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a military official said, with helicopter gunships also deployed in the concerted push. The guerrillas had pulled back their long-range artillery guns into an area declared a "safe zone" for civilians and were firing at the military from there, the Defence Ministry said. The Tigers wanted to create a "last-minute civilian tragedy" because the army was about to completely defeat them, the Ministry said in a statement. More than 250 civilians have been killed and over 1,000 injured since the beginning of January, said T Varatharajah, Regional Director of Health Services for the battle-scarred northern district of Mullaittivu. "There are dozens of unclaimed bodies lying in the hospital mortuaries because no relatives are coming forward to claim them," Varatharajah told AFP by telephone. The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website says the civilian toll is far higher. Sri Lanka has dismissed charges of widespread civilian deaths with military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara branding such claims part of a "cheap propaganda exercise" by the Tigers. But Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, on a surprise visit to Sri Lanka, called for urgent measures to protect civilians caught up in the island's ongoing fighting. Mukherjee held talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse and left Wednesday after getting assurances of safety for Tamil civilians. Government forces are battling to capture 30km of seafront north of Mullaittivu. Seizing the coastline would leave the remaining LTTE forces - and possibly Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran - encircled by ground troops. The fighting came as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sounded the alarm over what it said was a major humanitarian crisis in northern Sri Lanka, where 250,000 ethnic Tamil civilians have been caught up in the war. Medical facilities there were overwhelmed by "hundreds of dead and scores of wounded," the ICRC said in a statement from its Geneva headquarters. "It's high time to take decisive action and stop further bloodshed because time is running out," said Jacques de Maio, ICRC head of operations for South Asia.