The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Thursday, 31 January 2008

UPA Govt may put Ram Setu project on hold

The contentious Sethu Samundaram project is likely to be put on hold as after facing uproar from the Sangh Parivar over the issue, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government has been looking for a face saver that would allow it to exit the project.

The government's political reluctance has now been bolstered by a military caveat after the Navy chief and the Coast Guard Director General said that the project is a security threat.

The military establishment has warned that dredging a channel out of Adam's Bridge or Ram Setu will create a serious security problem for India.

"By virtue of the close boundary lines between Sri Lanka and us, obviously the implications are there for the security," Vice-Admiral RF Contractor, DG Coast Guard, warned.

The Coast Guard DG's warning comes close on the heels of reservations expressed by Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

And with the armed forces going public with their view, it's clear that the UPA Government cleared the contentious Rs 2,500 crore project without a proper security audit.

"Expert bodies like the Coast Guard Chiefs are raising matters of serious security concern, then it is a matter that ought to be factored into by the Government of India," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shanker Prasad said.

The Congress would rather be out of the controversy though the development immensely suits their present political stand - delay any stand and it seems to be finding a way out of an embarrassing situation.

"The chief of the Naval Staff may have said or the coast guard may said but these are all that will be inputs before the government before they take a decision or before they go ahead," Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said.

The bitter political spat over the Sethu Samundaram project has been focused around the existence of Lord Ram.

With India's security establishment now going public with its grave reservations about this proposed channel, it's perhaps a signal that the project should be debated rationally on its merits.

Source: CNN-IBN

Three firms bid for S.Lanka oil exploration

By Shihar Aneez

COLOMBO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka has received six tenders from three foreign companies for oil exploration in its northwestern offshore Mannar basin, the island's petroleum resource minister said on Thursday.

"We have got six tenders. They are from Cairn India (CAIL.BO: Quote, Profile, Reserch), ONGC Videsh (ONGC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) from India and Nico Resources from Cyprus," Minister A.H.M. Fowzie told Reuters.

"All three companies have bid for the first block, while Cairn India and Nico Resources have bid for the second block. The third block has received only one bid from Nico Resources."

The first block is the smallest out of the three with 3338.1 square kilometres, while the third block is the largest with an area of 4126.5 square kilometres.

Sri Lanka has eight exploration blocks in the Mannar basin, three of which are to be given for exploration once the government decides on a successful bidder.

Two have been assigned to China and India on nomination basis. The government plans to delay bidding on the last three blocks to get higher revenue.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which was offered the block nominated to India said in September it was not interested in the assigned block, citing low prospectivity and the fact that Sri Lanka was asking for a big signature bonus.

The Sri Lankan government later said it would negotiate with ONGC for a new oil block. The outcome of the negotiation has not yet been revealed.

The bidding process was closed on Thursday and the government expects to select the best three bidders by April 2008 and to start the oil exploration process by August.

The non-oil producing nation expects its first commercial crude oil production by 2010.

Prior to the bidding, the Sri Lankan government had said oil exploration licences would be awarded to firms that can provide most advanced technological and economic benefit to Sri Lanka.

A 35 percent tax from net profit, 10 percent royalty fee of annual production revenue, and allowing the planned National Oil Exploration Company to invest 10 percent in exploration activities were the conditions put forwarded by the government.

Signature bonds, production bonds, and profit sharing ratio are to be considered in selecting the best three bidders.

Roadshows to attract investors were held in London, Houston and Kuala Lumpur in September last year.

The government says seismic data shows more than a billion barrels of oil lie under the sea off Sri Lanka's northwest coast, though no reserves have yet been proven.

If proven, the reserves would be a major boost for the war-torn country, which produces no oil and imported $2.2 billion worth in the first 11 months of 2007.

Source: Reuters

Japan threatens to cut aid to Sri Lanka

Japan today warned it could be forced to review its aid policy if military action keeps escalating, but said it hoped to provide long-term support to bring peace, Japan's special peace envoy Yasushi Akashi said.

Source: Dailymirror

Web disturbances set to continue

Disruption to internet services in south Asia and the Middle East is continuing the day after Mediterranean undersea cables were damaged.

Operations outsourced to India from the UK and US are badly hit, said an industry body, adding that 50% of India's bandwidth was affected.

Egypt has about 40% of its internet capacity, following damage to a cable thought to be off its northern coast.

It could take a week or more to restore full services, say experts.

Further disruption has been reported in Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

'Bad delay'

India is the world leader in offshore outsourcing, with the remote servicing of IT or other business processes worth an estimated £24bn.

"The companies that serve the US east coast and the UK are worst affected," said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India.

He told the Associated Press (AP): "The delay is very bad in some cases.

"They have to arrange back-up plans or they have to accept the poor quality for the time being until the fibre is restored."

Major companies including IBM and Intel were still trying to assess how their operations had been impacted, AP reported.

An official in Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that the cause of the cable damage would not be known until repair ships and divers could get to the site.

Rough seas and weather were delaying that operation, he said, adding that the repairs could take as much as a week.

'Two cuts'

On Wednesday, a Dubai internet service provider (ISP), DU, blamed services disruption on "cuts in two international submarine cable systems in the Mediterranean Sea".

The company said: "We are working actively with the submarine cable system operators (FLAG Telecom and SEA-ME-WE 4) to ascertain the reasons for the cables being cut," it said.

FLAG Telecoms operate the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG), a 28,000km (17,400 mile) long submarine communications cable.

SEA-ME-WE 4, or the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 project, is a submarine cable linking South East Asia to Europe via the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.

Neither of the cable operators have confirmed the cause or location of the outage but some reports suggest it was caused by a ship's anchor near the port of Alexandria in Egypt.

There was disruption to 70% of the nationwide internet network in Egypt on Wednesday, while India suffered up to 60% disruption.

International telephone calls, which have also been affected, are being rerouted to work around the problem.

Source: BBC

Internet outage hits business from Cairo to Colombo

Damage to undersea Internet cables hit business across the Middle East and South Asia on Thursday, including the vital call centre industry, prompting calls for people to limit their surfing.

Around 70 percent of Internet users in Egypt have been affected since two submarine cables in the Mediterranean Sea were damaged on Wednesday, also rupturing connections thousands of kilometres (miles) away.

The cause of the damage is not yet known.

State-owned Saudi Telecom reported the loss of more than 50 percent of its international lines, and said it did not know when normal service would be restored, the Arab News reported.

Egypt's telecommunications ministry said repairs would take "at least a week" and appealed for users not to overload the backup system with hefty downloads and file-sharing applications.

"Two of our cables are affected; everyone will go onto a third cable," ministry spokesman Mohammed Taymur told AFP. "But that will not be enough bandwidth. The cable will be overloaded and no one will be able to get access."

"People should know how to use the Internet because people who download music and films are going to affect businesses who have more important things to do."

Taymur said a company had been asked to repair the cables but that "for the time being we don't know the cause. The two cables are a kilometre (over half a mile) apart and we don't know what could have affected both at the same time."

Like India, Egypt has a major call centre industry which has been affected by the outage, with a telecommunications ministry statement saying productivity was down to 30 percent.

The statement named other affected Arab countries as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Qatar and Bahrain.

Egyptian blogger The Arabist said he would "resume posting after the problem is resolved" and predicted, with a hint of sarcasm, "complete social breakdown in vast swathes of (upmarket Cairo districts) Heliopolis and Mohandiseen as thousands are unable to update their Facebook status."

Bahrain's Batelco issued a statement appealing for people to limit use to browsing and email but to refrain from file-sharing applications which require more bandwidth.

Gas-rich Qatar said that less than 40 percent of its Internet services were affected but that international phone lines were functioning normally.

The Al-Raya daily quoted one of national operator QTel's directors as saying that repairs in the Mediterranean could take up to two weeks.

In Muscat, OmanTel issued a statement saying it had reestablished 76 percent of Internet services by Thursday.

In Kuwait, the government said "weather conditions and maritime traffic" had damaged two cables, affecting most of the region.

India's Internet-dependent outsourcing industry was also severely disrupted, with businesses saying it may take up to 15 days to return to normal.

"Information-technology companies, software companies and call centres that provide online services to the UK or the US East Coast are the worst affected," said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India.

India's 11 billion dollar outsourcing industry employs 700,000 people working for companies that deliver services ranging from answering customer queries to to analysing equity markets for global clients.

The industry serves clients mainly in the US and Europe that sought to cut costs by farming out work to the country.

Neighbouring Bangladesh was also hit, with an official from the state Telegraph and Telephone Board saying that "voice and data traffic bound for Europe and America is not working. It slowed down the Internet services in the country."

Another Bangladesh provider, BDCom, said it was running at a quarter of its usual capacity.

"Our operations have slowed down. All the ISPs and call centres have also experienced similar problems," said Sabbir Ahmed Suman, BDCom director and a senior member of the Bangladesh Internet Service Providers Association.

Sri Lanka also faced a drastic drop in service quality, according to Sri Lanka Telecom, the country's largest Internet service provider.

Source: AFP

Scam may have link to Tamil Tigers: cops

'They're obviously supporters'
The Toronto Sun

Fraud investigators suspect a group of four who swiped account information from British bank cards of swindling victims out of about $250,000.

But Toronto Police are also trying to determine if there's a link between the international scam and the Tamil Tigers. Police found posters supporting the rebel group, which has been locked in a decades-old battle with Sri Lanka for independence.

"They're obviously supporters of the group," said Det. Scott Wittemore of 42 Division.


He said calendars and posters were found in the homes of two suspects.

"That's the next question we're going to have to investigate," he said. "My suspicions are that money will be going there, but it's going to take us months to track that."

The four suspects, two from London, England, face 83 charges, including belonging to a criminal organization, an offence developed to combat organized crime groups.

"We feel that we've met the threshold," Wittemore said. "I mean, it's not like a group of school kids saying, 'Let's go and rob whatever.' I think we have a strong case, but it will be up to a judge."

Wittemore said a patrolling cruiser spotted the suspects' vehicle go through a stop sign Monday in the Brimley Rd. and Brimwood Blvd. area.


The uniformed officers then found 41 gift cards, raising suspicions of a fraud scheme. Police discovered that the magnetic strip on the back of the cards contained debit card information of legitimate bank customers from Britain.

Police raided a Markham hotel room on Woodbine Ave. and an Ellesmere Rd. home after the car was stopped.

Investigators seized two laptop computers, computer memory sticks, reader and writer hardware, travel documents and passports issued to the suspects, a pinhole camera device, $25,000 in Canadian $20 bills and receipts for money transfers to people in the U.K. In total, 88 bogus ATM cards were seized.

Pratheepan Thambu, 22, and Lojanand Srianandan, 27, both of Toronto, and Sethukavalar Saravanabavan, 35, and Kirubakaran Selvanayagam Pillai, 38, of London, England, are to appear in a Scarborough court Friday.


Police explore Tamil link in fraud probe

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

A routine traffic stop has sparked a widening police probe of a debit-card fraud that may have funnelled funds to the outlawed Tamil Tigers.

After a visiting motorist failed to halt at a stop sign Monday, police in Scarborough's 42 Division searched his rented vehicle and found plastic cards carrying the debit data of bank customers in the United Kingdom.

Now four men face multiple charges of attempting to loot bank accounts in Britain. The four - two of them visitors from Britain and two of them Toronto residents - are all of Sri Lankan origin.

For now, the alleged scam is being treated as a relatively straightforward effort to steal tens of thousands of dollars from British bank-card holders via the international network of bank-teller machines.

But lead investigator Detective Scott Whittemore said yesterday that in visits to two Scarborough homes, police discovered calendars and posters promoting and lauding Sri Lanka's insurgent Tamil Tigers, a group outlawed in Canada.

And while voicing support for the group is not an offence, providing it with material support has been illegal since April of last year, when Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced that the Tamil Tigers had been added to Ottawa's list of proscribed terrorist groups.

The United States and the European Union have similarly blacklisted the organization.

Police are investigating whether any of the four men has financial ties to the Tigers. If the alleged fraud was intended to benefit the Tigers, it would not be the first time crime-derived funds have been funnelled to the group, but such connections are always hard to prove, Det. Whittemore said.

The four men were arrested when their rented car ran a stop sign and was examined. Police discovered 42 plastic bank cards in the car, and dozens more cards were found when police later raided a Brampton hotel and a home on Scarborough's Ellesmere Road.

And while it was unclear how much money was actually stolen, $25,000 in Canadian $20 bills was found in the raids, along with two laptop computers, computer memory sticks and hardware, pinhole cameras and passports and travel documents.

The four men will appear in court tomorrow for a bail hearing.

Canada's Tamil community numbers more than 200,000 people, two-thirds of whom live in the Toronto area. In their homeland, Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been locked in a war with the state in a conflict that has claimed at least 60,000 lives since 1972.

The Canadian Tamil Congress rejects suggestions the Tigers play any role in terrorism. But two days after last year's announcement outlawing the Tigers, RCMP raided the Montreal office of the World Tamil Movement, allegedly a front for Tiger fund-raising.

And in March of last year, a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch went further than merely asserting that Canadian money is fuelling the insurgency. The report stated that in Toronto, Tamils acting on behalf of the Tigers have committed widespread extortion and intimidation against their compatriots.

"Families were typically pressed for between $2,500 and $5,000," the report's authors wrote, "while some businesses were asked for up to $100,000."

The CTC denounced the Human Rights Watch findings, calling them methodologically flawed and flat-out wrong.


S.Lanka's annual inflation edges up to 16.4 pct in Jan

Sri Lanka's annual inflation rate measured on a 12-month moving average stood at 16.4 percent in January on a new index, up from 15.8 percent in December, due to higher food and fuel prices, the government said on Thursday.

Consumer prices rose 20.8 percent in January from a year earlier, higher than an annual rise of 18.8 percent in December the Census and Statistics Department said.

"Prices of wheat and fuel increased considerably due to high global prices," said D.C.A. Gunawardhana, director at the department. "Vegetable prices also went up as there was a shortage in supply due to seasonality."

The Census and Statistics Department introduced the new index from December, saying the old measure was outdated.

Under the old index, which will be phased out in March, the annual inflation rate measured on a 12-month moving average stood at 17.6 percent in January, slightly up from 17.5 percent in December.

Consumer prices, according to the old index, rose 21.6 percent in January from a year earlier, higher than an annual rise of 16.4 percent in December.

Analysts said they blamed the government for high expenditure.

"Commodity price increases are a global phenomena. It's not unique to Sri Lanka," said Channa Amarathunga, an economist at Boston Capital. "So the government has to tighten its monetary policy and reduce government expenditure."

Despite high inflation, the central bank held its key policy rates steady in January for a 11 month, keeping the overnight repurchase rate at 10.5 percent and reverse repurchase rate at 12 percent.


Indian Coast Guard to acquire six maritime surveillance aircraft

Apprehending that security threats from the high seas could increase once key projects like Setu Samundram channel get under way, the Coast Guard plans to acquire six multi-mission maritime surveillance aircraft.

"Such aircraft would give us the capability to mount round the clock vigil around our coastline with eyes from the skies," Vice Admiral R F Contractor, Director General of the force, told mediapersons here on Thursday.

"We already have mounted a strong vigil on the country's southern coastal waters and projects like the Setu Samundram could bring in more security problems," he said.

But the Coast Guard chief said security measures would be put in place once the channel becomes operative. He said similar security apparatus has been put in place in other channels like Panama Canal, Malacca straits as well Suez Canal.

Asked if Coastguard had put its views on security threats perceptions before the Government, Contractor said both the Navy and Coastguard had been asked to give their views by the Government as a prelude to the project being cleared.

Contractor said that Coast Guard had mounted a round the clock aerial and sea vigil in the Palk Bay as well as Gulf of Mannar to guard against infiltration of Sri Lankan armed cadres into India.

Contrary to speculation, Contractor said that number of Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka had dropped this year, after almost touching a high of 16,619 last year. "Security centres are active in all places where migrants boats berth and antecedents of all refugees are being checked".


Tamil Nadu unveils steps to curb pro-LTTE activity

Tamil Nadu Wednesday announced stern measures against political outfits openly expressing support to the banned Tamil Tigers group of Sri Lanka, virtually banning all such activity. The government, however, did not name any political party or organisation backing the cause of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has been banned in India since 1992.

Law Minister Durai Murugan told the assembly that any individual, group or political party espousing the cause of banned outfits would be punished under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (37 of 1967) and jailed.

AIADMK and Congress legislators had accused the government of being soft on the LTTE and walked out of the house Tuesday despite Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's attempt to assuage frayed tempers.

Following a high-level meeting chaired by the chief minister and attended by Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan, Advocate General Masilamani, Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathy and the police brass, the government decided that it was time to warn all organisations supporting banned bodies, Durai Murugan announced.

"Any activity in support of banned organisations in the form of public meetings, demonstrations, processions, fasts, publication and dissemination of pamphlets, posters etc. will be construed as punishable under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

"All organisations should take note of the fact that if such activity is undertaken by individuals, groups, associations and/or political parties that can be construed as support to banned organisations, they will be punishable under the aforesaid law," Durai Murugan said.

Electricity Minister and DMK treasurer Arcot N. Veerasamy informed the assembly that all the 12 fishermen held by the Sri Lankan Navy had been released due to the intervention of the central and Tamil Nadu governments.

At the same time, he urged the Rameshwaram fishing community to resume work.

Many political groups in Tamil Nadu openly support the LTTE, which is fighting to form an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka's northeast.

The LTTE was outlawed in India a year after one of its suicide bombers blew up former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi near here in May 1991.


LTTE seeks UN recognition for 'Tamil sovereignty'

The LTTE today urged the United Nations to recognise "Tamil sovereignty" to end the 25-year-old ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, accusing the government in the Island state of committing excesses against the minority community in the country.

"We urge you to consider recognising Tamil sovereignty as a constructive approach to end the five decades long, large-scale, and serious rights violations against the Tamil people," the LTTE political head B. Nadesan said in a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

"It should also be obvious to the international community that there is only one path open to regain the rights of the Tamil people and that is for the international community to recognize the sovereignty of the Tamil nation," Nadesan said.

The political head of the LTTE alleged in the letter that the Sri Lankan army was involved in the attack on Monday at Madhu that led to the death of 18 civilians including 12 school children.

"On 28 January, at 2.30 pm, a Sri Lankan military Deep Penetration Unit attacked a civilian bus on the Madhu-Palampiddy road in the Mannar district killing 18 civilians including twelve children," Nadesan said in the complaint lodged with the UN Secretary General.

"The attackers would have known that buses at that time carry school children returning home from school. This attack on a bus with scores of children, therefore, deliberately targeted the children. Among the eighteen civilians killed were twelve children aged from 8 to 16," he said.

Refuting the LTTE charges, a Sri Lankan military spokesman said the attack took place in the rebel controlled area and the involvement of Sri Lankan army does not arise.


India trying its ’87 pranks again – JVP

by Lakshmi de Silva

India violated the territorial sea and air space of Sri Lanka in 1987 when the army was defeating the LTTE terrorists during the Vadamarachchi Operation. It was once again trying to stop the victories of the armed forces as it did during the time President J. R. Jayawardene was in power. At that time India made him sign the Indo Lanka Accord and accept the Provincial Council System, JVP parliamentarian and trade union leader K. D. Lalkantha said yesterday (30).

He was addressing the 8th anniversary conference of the State Priniting Worker’s Union at the Government Press Auditorium Borella.

He said India does not like to see the Sri Lanka army defeating the LTTE because it was the godfather of the LTTE terrorists. "It cannot get over the fact that our army was defeating the LTTE which, India with world’s sixth the largest army, could not defeat. India does not want to see the Sri Lanka Army getting credit for defeating terrorists," he said

President J. R. Jayawardene’s arm was twisted and he was coerced to accept the Provincial Council system in 1987 but it was an illegal and undemocratic political intervention by India. The Provincial Council system had become a white elephant and it had deteriorated our education system, health and public transport services and had brought disaster to our country.

Lal Kantha said the Government should vanquish terrorism from the country but it had to give the people in the North and East their basic rights. However parceling out separate regions on the ethnic lines, like one region for Muslims and anther for Anandasangaree or Douglas Devananda was going to create a worse confusion than at present he noted.

India was trying to interfere politically and also economically trying its best to control Sri Lanka. The Government was now considering the handover of the Trincomalee oil tank farm, and open an Indian oil refinery and open up 154 new fuel filling stations throughout the country with the assistance from Indian Oil Company. Ceylon Electricity Board will like this idea as they can get fuel to run their power plants but in the long run India would have the upper hand to control our economy he said.

Sri Lanka was an independent sovereign state and no one had a right to interfere in our internal affairs. Just as we do not interfere in their internal problems like Kashmir we don’t want India to interfere in our affairs though she is called our Big Brother, he said.

Source: The Island

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Submarine cable cut torpedoes Middle East access

A submarine cable in the Mediterranean was cut earlier today, resulting in a dramatic slowdown in internet access for people in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and much of the Middle East.

A spokesman for Flag Telecom, the owner of the severed cable, told the Reg: "It is a problem off the coast of Alexandria in Egypt. For some reason ships were asked to anchor in a different place to normal - 8.3km from the beach. One of the ship's anchors cut our cable but there are multiple cuts - we're not the only company having problems."

He said they were in the process of getting a repair ship out to assess the damage but he warned the whole process could take 12 to 15 days even though the ship was in the Med. He said users in India would have a slower internet access as a result.

Such major damage to the internet backbone can cause major problems despite redundancy which allows some re-routing. The loss of so much bandwidth is likely to have an impact.

A Reg reader told us: "We've got some connectivity to our India office, but it's very flakey (currently losing half the packets) which could be a result of overloading. Is very similar to a couple of Christmas' ago when there was a earthquake near Taiwan and it severed undersea cables causing major bottlenecks on what was left to most of Asia for a couple of weeks."

Apart from being serious for the region, the cable break could also hit large UK and US enterprises which have offshored business processes and backoffice functions to companies in India, Pakistan or the Middle East.



Source: Defencewire/Asiantribune

67 killed in Lanka clashes, Air Force targets LTTE base

Sri Lankan fighter jets on Wednesday pounded a ''field headquarters'' of the LTTE and destroyed at least 35 rebel bunkers in the island's embattled north as security forces gunned down 64 rebels and lost three of their soldiers in ground clashes in the restive region.

The Air Force bombed the field headquarters of the LTTE at Weddukadu in the rebel-held Mulaitivu district this morning, the Defence Ministry said.

In ground clashes, at least 10 rebels were killed in Nagarkovil and Muhamale areas in northern Jaffna, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

At least 35 LTTE bunkers were also destroyed in the area, it said, adding this could have led to 25-30 rebels getting injured or killed.

Meanwhile, the LTTE claimed in a statement that the Sri Lankan Army was ''beaten back'' in the incident and ''returned to their own fortified localities with casualties.''

In another clash at Pallaikkuli in north of Mannar, security forces killed 12 LTTE cadres yesterday, the Defence Ministry said, adding four soldiers were also injured in the incident.

It said troops destroyed nine LTTE bunkers yesterday at Vannakulam in north-western Mannar. Ten guerrillas were killed in the incident and many were reported missing.

Three LTTE woman cadres were among those killed in the incident. Their bodies were left behind by the fleeing rebels, the ministry said.

Source: NDTV

Women militants forced to join LTTE in Sri Lanka

Women are being forced into joining the LTTE, and are homesick, according to letters purportedly recovered from slain woman militants in Sri Lanka.

"Every LTTE cadre is anxious to see his or her parents and I will come home for pongal (festival) though I do not know what my fate will be," said one letter recovered by security forces from a slain woman militant.

"Amma, what can I do? When all those at home in the area were taken away, I too had to go with them (LTTE)," said the letter, which was released by the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) to the media.

The letter, written in Tamil, with small portions in English, said "every fighter cries 'Amma' and 'Appa' at the time of their heroic death. They are all anxious to see their mothers."

The militant said the cadres had to crawl to bring food and water in the front lines amidst the firing of mortars in the restive northern plains.

"Amma, please reply (to) every letter which I send. I hope for a reply on the same day itself -- your loving daughter Daya Nagai Nila."

Another militant said she was forced to join the LTTE by her parents in spite of her objections.

"Vijee now I am in Manalaru (Welioya in Jaffna) where clashes erupt very often. Many of my good friends perished in the attacks. Attacks take place everyday, I am not sure of my life. Death may come to us today or tomorrow," she wrote.

The woman said her parents had to "hand me over to the organisation (LTTE) in spite of my objections. What else can I do here other than dying?"

Source: Times Of India

Sri Lanka military destroys 35 LTTE bunkers

Sri Lankan military says advancing troops have a major breakthrough against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Wednesday as the first bunker lines of Tamil Tiger defence at Muhamalai and Nagarkovil in Jaffna were destroyed in a surprise attack during the wee hours today.

100 infantrymen ran through the LTTE defence positions smashing 35 bunkers of the Tamil outfit. "Intercepted wireless communication of the LTTE has confirmed that at least 10 of them were killed," All India Radio (AIR) reported here quoting Sri Lankan military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara as telling the media in Colombo.

But according to the grounded troops about 30 Tamil Tigers were either killed or wounded, Brig. Nanayakkara added.

Seven soldiers were injured during the confrontations.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan air force today bombed a field headquarters of the Tamil tigers at Vettukadu (Vettu Kaadu) in Jaffna today. Air force spokesman Wing commander Andrew Wijessorya said that the target, two kilometres south of Muhamalai, was hit accurately.

Addressing the media conference the Defence Ministry spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that Periya Madhu area in Mannar has been declared a 'no war zone'.

He added that the military had no hand in yesterday's claymore blast targeting a passenger bus. 20 civilians, including 11 school children were killed and 14 others wounded in the blast for which the LTTE had blamed the army.


Wanni liberation in progress - SL Gov

Military reports reveal that Sri Lanka Army has sustained its multi pronged thrust at the Wanni defence yesterday (January 29) inflicting heavy damages to LTTE terrorists. According to the reports 43 terrorists were killed and many others injured during the clashes erupted in the Vavuniya and Mannar fronts right throughout the day.

On the Mannar front, troops successfully beat off the terrorists from Pallaikkuli and Vannankulama areas after dislodging 15 LTTE bunkers in series of attacks launched during the daytime yesterday.

At Pallaikkuli, army infantrymen destroyed 6 bunkers manned by LTTE terrorists killing at least 12 LTTE cadres. Troops during the subsequent, search found a body of an LTTE cadre along with a T-56 riffle. Also, 80 mortar bombs (60mm), 3 claymore mines , and 10000 ammunitions used for T-56 riffles were uncovered from the area. Four soldiers suffered injuries and were evacuated to hospitals.

At similar incident at Vannankulama, troops destroyed 9 LTTE bunkers on the same day. LTTE radio transmissions have revealed that 10 terrorists were killed and many were reported missing during the clash. During the subsequent search, troops found three bodies of female LTTE cadres abandoned by the fleeing terrorists. Troops suffered no casualties in this incident.

Separately, snipers deployed in Karukkakulama and Parappakandal areas claimed that 10 terrorists were shot down during the morning hours yesterday.

On the Vavuniya front, 11 more terrorists were killed in a series of clashes erupted between troops and the terrorists during the day.

At Vilathikulama, troops ambushed a group of LTTE terrorists around 12.25, last afternoon. Ground troops confirmed that four terrorists were killed in the incident. Meanwhile, LTTE terrorists fired 81mm mortars at the troops deployed in the area around 2.45 on the same day evening. Two soldiers were killed and three suffered injuries in the attack.

At Navatkulama, troops attacked an LTTE bunker around 2.45.p.m. The ground sources confirmed that two terrorists were killed.

At Kallikulama, troops ambushed a group of terrorists around 3.20.p.m. LTTE radio transmission have revealed three LTTE cadres were killed in the incident.

In a similar incident in the Periyapantrichchuchan area occurred around 3.25.p.m troops claimed that two more terrorists were killed and another injured.

Also, another terrorist was reported to have suffered injuries when troops open fire at a group of terrorists detected in the Iramiyankulama area around 9, last morning.

Limited offensives are continuing.


Tiger plan to explode bomb in Colombo revealed

Intelligence sections of Security Forces have been able to expose a plan by tiger terrorists to explode a bomb in Colombo says Media Centre for National Security.

According to information revealed tiger terrorists have planned to explode the bomb carried in an ice-cream ‘box.’

MCNS has requested people to be aware of terrorists disguised as ice-cream sellers.

Source: Lanka Truth


Source: RomeoAlphaFoxtrot/

Sri Lanka: Where journalists live dangerously

Sri Lankan journalists are going through a trying period. Government leaders are taking a hard line on media freedom, with even senior media persons facing death threats and murderous assaults.

Media watchdogs, both national and international, have publicised serious incidents of intimidation by the state and other agencies directed against media organisations. But President Mahinda Rajapaksa denies any repression.

"The media here is free. Newspapers are full of criticism against the government," Rajapaksa pointed out recently. However, incidents of intimidation abound.

The latest scary case was the stabbing of Suhaib M Kassim, the associate editor of the state-owned Tamil daily Thinakaran at his house here on Monday.

The watchdog Free Media Movement (FMM) said the attack on a senior journalist like Suhaib demonstrated the "vulnerability" of journalists in "highly militarised" Sri Lanka.

Last week, two unidentified men stabbed journalist Lal Hemantha Athula Mawalage of the state-owned TV station "Rupavahini" while he was on his way home.

Mawalage had come into the limelight when he delivered a fiery speech against the controversial Deputy Labour Minister Mervyn Silva, who had stormed into the TV station and assaulted news director T M G Chandrasekhara December 27.

Angry TV station staff then beat up minister Silva. The incident was shown on all TV channels to the embarrassment of the Rajapaksa government.

While the minister went scot-free, Chandrasekhara was transferred to the post of director of research. The media reported that Chandrasekhara sought the transfer "citing threats to his life".

The FMM said that on January 7, three leading journalists with MBC TV and Radio Network that covered the Rupavahini episode were threatened with death by the underworld.

MTV head Chevaan Daniel, Sirasa TV director Kingsley Ratnayake and its news director Susil Kedelpitiya lodged complaints with the police about the threats.

Earlier, a young journalist with The Sunday Leader, Arthur Wamanan, was arrested for exposing the minister's alleged corruption.

Two top journalists of the Jaffna-based Tamil daily Uthayan are too scared to go home because they face threats. The resident editor and the news editor have had to practically live in the office since May 2006.

"I can go out only with police escort," news editor Kuhanathan told IANS. He would not identify the source of the threat.

Tamil journalists who get into trouble are routinely suspected of being supporters of the Tamil Tigers. Over all, critical journalists, no matter what the ethnicity, are dubbed "traitors".

Indeed, some Sinhalese journalists have been arrested for suspected links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), leading to a new term "Sinhala Koti" or "Sinhalese Tigers".

In a letter to President Rajapaksa this month, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the charge of "traitor" was made against Tamil TV journalist Sri Ranga Jeyaratnam by Tamil cabinet minister Douglas Devananda.

Army commander Lt.Gen. Sarath Fonseka told the state-owned media January 2 that a few scribes were indeed traitors and that they were the "real obstacles" in the war against terror.

Last year, the defence ministry's website had for many days carried an article making insinuations against Iqbal Athas, the defence correspondent of The Sunday Times. Athas was accused of "assisting in the psychological operations of the LTTE terrorists".

The CPJ told President Rajapaksa: "Verbal, written and physical assaults on journalists are attacks on the very fabric of a democratic society. We call on you to make sure that members of your government desist from such acts."

This has had no impact.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said on Monday that sections of the media were "taking a sadistic delight in denigrating their motherland".

And in an interview to the Sinhalese daily "Iirida Lankadeepa" last week, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa - a brother of the president - called for censorship on military news.

"I think there is no need to report anything on the military. People do not want to know the quantity and kind of arms we acquire. This is not media freedom. I will tell without fear that if I have power I will not allow any of these things to be written.

"Everything in this country has become prostituted. Like peace, even the media is completely prostituted," Gotabhaya thundered after naming two leading media institutions as the principal culprits.


LTTE's first bunker line falls as Army foray terror defences in Jaffna

Sri Lanka Army sources claim that first bunker defence of LTTE terrorists on Muhamalai and Nagarkovil fronts in the Jaffna peninsula were destroyed in a surprise attack this morning (January 30). According to the sources over 100 infantrymen ran at the terror defences around 12.45.a.m. smashing 35 bunkers occupied by the terrorists.

LTTE radio transmissions have revealed 10 cadres were killed in the confrontation. However, ground troops have reported that 25-30 terrorists were either killed or wounded. A rocket propeller grenade launcher, a 60mm mortar bomb, a large stock ammunitions have been found during the subsequent search.

Military sources say, seven army soldiers were wounded in action and have been admitted to military hospital in Palaly. Troops are consolidating their positions , the sources added.


Was LTTE tipped off about visit?

by Norman Palihawadana

Defence authorities want to know how Monday’s LTTE artillery attack on the Palaly air base coincided with the arrival of a chopper carrying senior defence officials.

The chopper carrying Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and Air Chief Marshall Donald Perera, who were due to attend a launching ceremony in Jaffna, was forced to return to Colombo by the attack.

Defence spokesman Arjuna Hulugalle told The Island that it was possible that the terrorists had been tipped off by a spy at the Katunayake or Ratmalana airports.

He said the LTTE had not attacked the Palaly base for a very long time and for them to have fired their artillery from a position at Kalmunai Point in Pooneryn, particularly on Monday, pointed to the fact they had prior information of the visit of the top defence team.

Source: Island

Kerala says it is probing reports that Prabhakaran is in state

Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Tuesday that his department has asked state police intelligence to verify a report in a local Malayalam newspaper that LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and his wife have escaped to Kerala, in the wake of escalating war in Sri Lanka between the LTTE and Lankan armed forces.

The Minister, however, added that the state Government had no official information from any sources on this. Intelligence sources too said they were yet to have any indication of it.

Balakrishnan said police stations along the state’s coastline have anyway been asked to stay alert earlier, to check on suspicious activities. The Government is also planning to open eight more coastal police stations, he added.

Another news report, meanwhile, had said the LTTE chief and his wife were smuggled not into Kerala but Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, on January 10. The report said they were in the guise of refugees, and they had moved on to Coimbatore later. State intelligence sources here, however, said no such information had been shared by their TN counterparts.


LTTE to demonstrate in front of British Prime Ministers residence on the Independence Day of Sri Lanka

London, 30 January, ( Activists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a banned terrorist organization in the United Kingdom, will hold an anti-Sri Lanka demonstration in front of the official residence of the British Prime Minister on the Sri Lankan Independence Day.

Scheduled to be held February 4th, the day Sri Lankans will be celebrating their 60th anniversary of independence from more than one hundred years of British colonial rule, the Tamil Tiger activists will be demonstrating under the banner of their well known front, The Tamil Youth Organization (TYO).

Sources close to the TYO said A.C. Shanthan, the leader of the UK LTTE and Golden Lambert, who were both arrested under Britain’s anti-terrorist laws for their LTTE activities currently facing legal prosecution and who are now on bail are behind the organization of the demonstration in front of 10, Downing Street, London, which is the official residence of the British Prime Minister.

A leaflet distributed by the TYO said the demonstration will be held between 11.00 a.m. to 3 p.m. to protest against what they called state terrorism.

This is not the first time the TYO is holding LTTE rallies in London. In July 2006, the same organization held a LTTE rally in Hyde Park London blatantly demonstrating the cut out of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the supremo of the Tamil Tigers.

A.C.Shanthan (53) is currently directing the British Tamil Forum (BTF) successors to the British Association of Tamils(BAT), all fronts of the LTTE and Golden Lambert (31) is the chief fundraiser of the TYO, sources said.

The duo were arrested in connection with the Black July rally they held in Hyde Park , July 25 2006, which has been under investigation for some time.

Both of them were arrested under section 12 (3) and Section 2 and 6 of UK’s anti-terrorist law which respectively bans support for a proscribed organization by way of speeches and provides material support by way of fund raising.

Shanthan , who had been an armed combatant under one time LTTE Jaffna commander, Kittu later came to London as a student and continued his services to the LTTE. He operated the Eelam House in Catherine Road, East Ham London until the organization was banned in Britain.

Source: Asian Tribune

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Adampan Area map

Source : defencewire

U.S. Group advocates for Tamil Statehood

"Applying the 'self-evident' truths celebrated in the Declaration of Independence, the United States should recognize the right of Sri Lanka's long oppressed Tamil people to independent statehood from the racial supremacist Sinhalese," says Bruce Fein, the associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, and a lawyer for Tamils For Justice, a U.S. group of Tamil activists, in an opinion piece appearing Tuesday in Washington's conservative news paper, The Washington Times.

Fein argues, the history of the persecution of the Tamil people "easily justifies Tamil statehood, with boundaries to be negotiated," and points out, "The Declaration of Independence proclaims: "[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce [a people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Fein chronicles his reasons for his stand by drawing on the principles articulated in the U.S Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776.

Fein states: "In the last two years, four Tamil parliamentarians under the ostensible protection of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) have been assassinated. Sri Lanka's signature became predation, repression, and state sponsored race riots against Tamils, the first organized on May 27, 1958.

"The 1958 Sinhalese Only Act was a landmark in the history of Tamil oppression. It generally excluded or handicapped Tamils in public or private employment, education, housing or welfare. Roads, schools, hospitals and public utilities were shortchanged in Tamil areas, which reflected a Sinhalese policy of "separate and unequal" that has persisted for 50 years," he adds.

"In 1961, Tamils began a nonviolent, Gandhi-like protest in favor of regional autonomy. The Sinhalese government answered with assaults on the demonstrators, mass arrests, detentions of Tamil members of Parliament, torture and shootings.

"In 1983, the Sinhalese government originated raced riots that culminated in the slaughter of 4,000 Tamils. No prosecutions were brought against the Sinhalese culprits.

"There is no parallel to the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In 1970, for example, the GOSL inaugurated a system of standardization, which required Tamil students seeking college admission to score substantially higher marks than Sinhalese applicants.

Fein details in the article a Tamil family's struggle against State sponsored harassment and intimidation.

Fein also points to the Canadian Supreme Court, which "In re Secession of Quebec (1998)" elaborated that a right to secession may arise whenever a government flouts its obligation to represent "the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction of any kind." Tamils have been treated as third-class citizens for a half-century, Fein asserts.

Faulting the recent statement of Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States, Bernard Goonetilleke, who Fein claims falsely likened "the persecuted Tamils to the Confederate States of America," Fein questions, "Is it any wonder that an ambassador has been defined as an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country?"

Washington Times has a history of speaking on behalf of the Sri Lanka Embassy, as evident from the Sri Lanka Embassy internet archives.

Source: Tamilnet

SLA attacks bus carrying school children in Madu, 17 killed, 17 wounded

(TAMILNET)At least 11 school children, principal of the displaced Chinna Pa'ndivirichchaan school and two teachers were killed and 17 wounded when a Deep Penetration Unit of Sri Lanka Army triggered a Claymore mine targeting the bus carrying school children in Madu division of the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam controlled territory Tuesday at 2:25 p.m. Pa'l'lamadu hospital authorities told TamilNet that 11 of 17 killed in the attack were school children. The bus was 1 km away from Madu church, after having picked up the children at Thadcha'naamaruthamadu and was on its way to Pa'l'lamadu from Madu.

The principal was among the dead. 7 children were critically wounded. 12 of the 17 wounded were in critical state.

Officials at the Mannaar Operations Command of the LTTE said they had spoiled a number of attempts by the SLA DPU teams to infiltrate and place Claymore mines along the roads within the past 3 months.

Source: Tamilnet

SLA denies any involvement in Mannar incident

Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara totally denied LTTE allegations that Sri Lanka Army deep penetration unit attacked a civilian school bus in the Madhu area. He stressed that there were no military teams operating in those areas.

Source: Dailymirror

Sri Lankan army kills 43 rebels in clashes


Colombo : At least 43 Tamil rebels and a Sri Lankan soldier have been killed in clashes in the northern part of the country, military officials said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, troops captured the Vivattankulam area in Mannar, 320 km north of the capital, destroying 16 bunkers and killing at least 22 rebels, the military said.

Six rebels each were killed Monday in two separate incidents in the Wanni area, 240 km north of the capital while nine rebels were killed in Welioya, 280 km northeast of the capital, on the same day, military said.

A government soldier was killed in Muhamalai, 370 km north of the capital, in a confrontation with the rebels Monday, officials said.

Government troops are continuing their operations mainly in the Mannar area un the northwest while other smaller operations also are being conducted in the north.

The military during this month has claimed to have killed over 800 rebels and lost 30 soldiers, but there is no independent confirmation of the figures.


SAARC summit to be held in Sri Lanka

The 15th SAARC Summit will be held in the picturesque Sri Lankan city of Kandy from July 27 with Colombo planning ''foolproof'' security arrangements to ward off any LTTE attack as it battles the rebel forces in the north.

''Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse visited Kandy (about 80 kms of North East of Colombo) on Monday and held a meeting with regard to making available all facilities in time before the SAARC summit beginning on July 27,'' a top official told PTI.

''Security issue was also discussed,'' the official said, adding it was decided to take special measures to ensure ''fool proof arrangements.''

The week-long summit that will conclude on August 3 is expected to be attended by SAARC heads of state including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Among various infrastructural facilities, the government proposes to renovate the whole road network in Kandy in time for the summit. The event will be marked by special cultural pageants and other colourful programmes in the hill resort.

The summit is also expected to be attended by around 1,000 delegates from the SAARC countries besides a 300 strong representatives from the media, officials said.

Arrangements will also be made for special train services from Colombo to Kandy during the summit. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and his cabinet colleagues Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohana Dissanayake were among those who attended the meeting chaired by the president.

Fighting between military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has intensified since the government scrapped a ceasefire on January 16, leaving over 600 rebels dead.

Source: NDTV

Sri Lanka seizes rebel stronghold

Sri Lankan soldiers have captured a small area of a rebel-held territory in the country's embattled north killing 22 insurgents.

Sri Lankan troops backed by artillery and mortars on Tuesday destroyed 10 rebel bunkers and seized about 1 square kilometer of territory in the village of Viyattankulam in the Mannar district, the military said.

Ten rebels were killed in the battle.

In another confrontation in nearby Palaikkuli village, troops destroyed six rebel bunkers and killed 12 guerrillas. A small area of rebel land was also captured in Palaikkuli.

Military officials said that troops did not suffer any casualties.

The Colombo government has gained the upper hand in recent months, killing senior rebel figures including the Tigers' political leader and military intelligence chief.

Military analysts, however, say the rebels have retained their strike capability and see no clear winner on the horizon.


Cong raises alarm over ‘pro-LTTE’ wave in TN

TNCC informs party high command, writes letter to the CM against open support to the outfit

The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee has informed the AICC leadership about the hail LTTE meetings in Tamil Nadu, particularly the recent one organised by a DMK ally, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi led by Thol Thirumavalavan, demanding the lifting of the ban on the Tiger outfit.

“The TNCC president has informed Arun Kumar, MP and CWC member in-charge of Tamil Nadu, about the VCK meeting in Chennai on Friday night and about several political and non-political organisations praising the LTTE and its leader, Prabhakaran,” said a party source.

Despite its posturing about coming down hard on members of any organisation supporting banned outfits by way of meetings and rallies, the DMK Government has not initiated any move against ally VCK whose leaders hailed the LTTE and its chief, describing them as “the only beacon of hope” for the “suffering Tamils” in Sri Lanka. The VCK has a sizeable support among Dalit voters in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, the TNCC has written a letter to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi expressing its ‘anguish’ about the ‘open support’ for the LTTE in Tamil Nadu and the ‘severe mental strain” this is causing to its leaders. Incidentally, TNCC president M Krishnasamy happens to be the father-in-law of Union

Minister Anbumani Ramadoss whose party Pattali Makkal Katchi is another strident LTTE backer.

In his letter to the Chief Minister on Monday, Krishnasamy, pleaded for ‘stern action’ against those supporting the banned terrorist outfit. Without specifying any organisation by name, the TNCC chief said in the past two months, some political as well as non-political organisations had expressed support openly for the LTTE at public meetings and through the media.

“They were also making statements demeaning the Congress. This has hurt the sentiments of not only the Congressmen in the state, but the feelings of the people as well,” he said, adding: “Our senior leaders are under severe mental strain due to these comments. I request you to take action against those responsible for this.”

When Karunanidhi wrote an elegy for Tamilselvan in November last, members of the TNCC Legislature Party passed a resolution saying the DMK chief’s tribute for the LTTE leader killed in an aerial attack in Sri Lanka, “brought tears of blood to their eyes.”

The AICC too soft-pedaled the issue, passing a resolution in its November session saying that any support to the LTTE was “bound to hurt the sentiments of Congressmen”.


The newly formed Mac Infantry in action

The Badge investiture ceremony of the newly formed Mechanized Infantry Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army was held today at the Palay Army base in Jaffna. Jaffna Security Force Commander - Major General G.A. Chandrasiri was the Chief Guest at the event. Pictured here are soldiers taking part in the parade with armed Tanks in the background.

Source/Image: Dailymirror

Monday, 28 January 2008

Sri Lanka military: Soldiers capture rebel bunkers as fighting kills 14 rebels, 1 soldier

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - Sri Lankan soldiers attacked Tamil rebel bunkers in the embattled north on Monday, triggering battles that left 14 guerrillas and one soldier dead, the military said.
Army troops captured six rebel bunkers early Monday in the village of Palaikkuli in Mannar district, southwest of the rebels' northern headquarters, killing seven guerrillas,
a Defense Ministry official said. Fighting killed one soldier.
Hours later in the nearby Adampan village, soldiers clashed with a group of rebels, killing five of them, the official said speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Later, a separate gunbattle killed two Tamil rebels in the same area, he said.
Separately on Monday, fighter jets bombed an artillery position in the northern rebel-held Pooneryn area, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.
He did not give details of damage or casualties, but said pilots have confirmed that a target was hit.
The airstrike came after insurgents fired artillery into the government-controlled Jaffna peninsula, he said. Troops did not suffer casualties in the assault.
Rebel officials could not be contacted for comment.
It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because the fighting took place deep in the northern jungles, where access is restricted. Both sides often release inflated casualty figures for their opponents while lowering their own.

Government troops have opened up four fronts around the rebels' de facto state in northern Sri Lanka, surrounding the territory, while the air force has launched a mission to kill the group's top brass and crush the rebels' decades-old separatist war.
At least 75 rebels and four soldiers were killed in fierce fighting across the north over the weekend, according to the military.
Fighting has raged since the government announced earlier this month that it was pulling out of a Norwegian-brokered cease-fire, which had long been ignored by both sides.
More than 600 people have been killed since the cease-fire officially ended, according to the military.
The Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent state in the north and east for the country's ethnic Tamil minority after decades of being marginalized by Sinhalese-dominated governments. The fighting has killed more than 70,000 people.


Lankan air force bombs LTTE base, 40 killed in clashes

Sri Lankan security forces killed 38 Tamil Tigers and lost two soldiers in spiralling fighting with the rebels in the island's embattled north, where the Air Force jets on Monday raided an LTTE base.

"Air Force fighter jets on Monday pounded LTTE gun positions located in the Kalmunai Point in Paranthan in Northern Sri Lanka", the Defence Ministry said.

The attack was launched in retaliation to the artillery shelling by the LTTE at the Jaffna peninsula on Monday morning, defence sources said.

Sri Lanka Army responded to the attack with heavy artillery and multi-barrel rocket fire, the army said.

"The air raids were successful," it said. In ground clashes, at least three militants were killed in Alakallapottakulam in Vavuniya on Monday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

At Pandirichchan also in Vavuniya, at least 10 militants were killed on Sunday in a clash, it said.

Source: Times Of India

Sri Lanka says weekend death toll 79, 'most rebels'

Sri Lanka's air force bombed Tamil Tiger positions in the far north on Monday and government troops killed 36 rebels in the north on Sunday, the military said.

Including the 36, the death toll from fighting at the weekend reached 79, most of them rebels, according to military figures.

The weekend clashes were on the Jaffna peninsula, the northern districts of Vavuniya and Polonnaruwa and the north-western district of Mannar, and killed a total of 75 rebels and four soldiers, the military said.

A pro-Tiger website said 15 government soldiers were killed in the Mannar fighting.

The military said the Tamil Tiger rebels had fired artillery from the rebel-held area on Monday morning toward the army-controlled northern Jaffna peninsula, separated by rebel territory from the rest of the country, but there were no reports of casualties or property damage.

"There was firing from the ground. To neutralise the fire the air force fighter jets bombed the LTTE artillery gun position in Pooneryn this morning," air force spokesman Wing Commander Andrew Wijesuriya said.

Pilots confirmed the raid was successful, he said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who seek to carve out an independent state in north and east Sri Lanka, were not immediately available for comment.

A pro-rebel website said the fighting in Mannar on Sunday killed 15 Sri Lankan soldiers and wounded more than 30. The website gave no details of rebel casualties, but the military denied the claim.

There were no independent accounts of how many people had been killed or what had happened. Analysts say both sides tend to overstate enemy losses and play down their own.

Source: ABC

JVP rejects solution based on Indian model

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The JVP yesterday rejected APRC (All Party Representative Committee) call for a series of measures to achieve maximum and effective devolution of powers to the provinces in the short term.

JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe said that Minister Tissa Vitarana’s so called APRC was no APRC at all. How could they categorise it as an all party committee when the JVP and the UNP weren’t represented. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which recognised the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamil speaking people, too, boycotted the committee.

Addressing the press at Savsiripaya auditorium, Amarasinghe asserted that except the SLFP, other parties which endorsed the proposals were in fact no political parties. They were ‘three wheeler’ parties and their endorsement wouldn’t mean a thing, he said.

Severely criticising President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s approach to solve the national problem, the JVP leader accused the government of reviving the long dead Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987. He urged the government not to revive the accord forced on President JR Jayewardene by India at gunpoint as it would never facilitate a negotiated settlement. The president had conveniently forgotten the tough stand taken against the Indo-Lanka Accord by the SLFP, he said. The UNP killed 140 civilians who marched on Colombo against the Accord, the JVP Chief said, emphasising that the need to destroy the LTTE before tackling political issues.

"In our road map for durable peace, the annihilation of the LTTE comes first," he said. Along with that, the restoration of democracy, compensation to victims of violence irrespective of their ethnicity and eradication of the ‘separatist movement’ would be necessary, he said. This could be followed by elections to provincial councils and local bodies, he said, while emphasising the importance of a countrywide census after the annihilation of the LTTE.

Vitarana said that their recently unveiled proposals would be followed by a set of proposals that would be the basis for a solution to the national problem. "After, 63 sittings, over a period of 1 1/2 years, the consensus document is being finalised and it should be possible to hand it over to the President in the very near future. The outcome would be a basis for appropriate constitutional arrangements. Their implementation would of course require amendment of the present Constitution, and in respect of some Articles, approval by the people at a referendum. This would of course take time, once a favourable climate is established"

Amarasinghe strongly rejected the move to establish an Interim Council for the Northern Province in terms of the Constitution. This would cause chaos, he said adding that the JVP was totally in disagreement with the assertion that the Interim Council should reflect the ethnic character of a particular province, in this case the Northern Province.

In short, the JVP would accept the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitition, he said. Vitarana called for maximum devolution of powers to the provinces under the 13th Amendment. Amarasinghe said that the implementation of the amendment in respect of legislative, executive and administrative powers, overcoming existing shortcomings would be detrimental to the national interest and the JVP would do everything possible to thwart the move.

Responding to a query raised by The Island, Amarasinghe said that the JVP’s armed struggle against the State and that of the LTTE couldn’t be compared. The JVP was a democratic party and it never resorted to any illegal activity before the then UNP administration of JR Jayewardene proscribed the party, he said. Applauding the security forces, which twice put down JVP inspired armed campaigns, the JVP leader expressed satisfaction over the status of the ongoing action against the LTTE. He also launched a scathing attack on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Loise Arbour for being biased towards the LTTE. He emphasised that their protests directed against Ms Arbour shouldn’t be construed as anti-UN.

Briefly discussing the humanitarian disaster in US occupied Iraq, Amarasinghe challenged Arbour to criticise the US led allied action there. She was silent on the situation in Iraq, he said.

The JVP would oppose any effort on the part of the UN to bring Sri Lankan security forces before international court for human rights violations.

Source: The Island

Sunday, 27 January 2008

No let up in military offensive against LTTE: Rajapakse

Signalling that there will be no let up in military offensive against the LTTE, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has said the army was trying to liberate the main rebel strongholds of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu in the embattled north.

''We are trying to relieve the people of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu of terror under LTTE leader V Prabhakaran,'' he said.

''The government is making efforts to allow them to enjoy the freedoms and rights of human beings in a democratic state in the same manner the people of the Eastern Province were now enjoying,'' Rajapakse said at a university function in Kandy, about 80 kms northeast of Colombo, on Saturday.

The president vowed to break the backbone of terrorism, which, he said can not be allowed to prevail but added that political issues cannot be resolved through the gun.

The president said that an environment conducive for children has been created in eastern Sri Lanka after much effort and the same would be done for children of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu after it is liberated.

He sought the cooperation of the common people in this endeavour.

Steps have been taken to restore democratic rights of the people by the elected representatives in the Eastern Province, the president added.

Fighting has escalated between government troops and the LTTE since Colombo pulled out of the 2002 ceasefire this month, leaving hundreds of people dead.

Source: NDTV

46 killed in Sri Lanka

Colombo (PTI): At least 43 militants, two civilians and a solider were killed in fierce gunbattles between security forces and the LTTE in the embattled Northern Sri Lanka, the army said here on Sunday.

Three militants were gunned down in an encounter with troops at Kokkuthuduvai in North-Eastern Welioya on Sunday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

Nine rebels were gunned down by security forces in three separate encounters at Kiribbanwewa in Welioya on Saturday while two others died in a confrontation at Parayanakulam in Vavuniya on the same day, the Defence Ministry said.

In another clash at Muhamalai in Jaffna, security forces lost a soldier, the MCNS said adding troops also killed three Tamil Tigers in an attack in the same area on Saturday evening.

Separately, two rebels were killed in skirmishes with troops in Kokkuthuduwai and Janakapura areas of Jaffna on Saturday, the Defence Ministry said.

Five rebels were shot dead at Vilathikulam in Vavuniya when troops intercepted the LTTE foot movement there on Saturday, the MCNS said.

One rebel was killed at Kallikulam in Vavuniya on Saturday, the Army said.

Earlier in the day, troops hit an LTTE mortar training base North of Palamoddai in Vavuniya with artillery fire.

Source: Thehindu

Bloodying the Tiger’s nose

By Senpathi

The stated military strategy is not to pursue a land grab in the Wanni, as in the East, where the Army took over vast swathes of territory. In the Wanni and the North, the forces have to cope with a less friendly civilian population of around half-a-million people.

And, on top of that, the Tigers are well entrenched in their defences and have proved their conventional capabilities, which they have acquired over the years.

Despite the Military’s superior combat power, it is not easy to dislodge the cadres who have conventional capability including artillery and mortar power and have dug in and mined the area heavily.

The Army has opened up five fronts in the Wanni and the North to draw the Tigers into battle. The Military feels that the way to go about is to destroy the cadres and their strike capability, in an overall war of attrition.

(For its part, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) this week alone, took out two identified targets, including the LTTE’s “X-ray Base” east of Iranamadu Tank in the Kalmadukulama area on Wednesday (23) and its transport base located at Kilinochchi, on Friday (25). In the first air raid, SLAF fighter jets, in a low flying mission, had, with the pin point accuracy, targeted the base that LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was to visit, the SLAF claimed. But, there was no conformation based on ground intelligence, as to the Tiger leader being injured.

The insurgency has grown over several phases and what the Military is doing is to roll back these phases, which, of course, takes time.

Setting deadlines to win the war, is not very practical, on account on the LTTE’s use of conventional force, guerilla warfare and terrorism. We saw how the LTTE continued to make its presence felt in Thanamalwila in the Moneragala district, killing three policemen and injuring two soldiers this week.

The Military is shaping the battle and creating the conditions, until the right time and right place to go for the kill. The last experience at Muhamalai, ahead of the Budget vote, only goes to show that the Tigers expected the operation and dealt with it accordingly. As the soldiers captured the first bunker line and proceeded to get at the second, the LTTE rained artillery and turned the soldiers into sitting ducks. The same mistake was not repeated this time, as troops, this week, destroyed 24 LTTE bunkers and caused damage to the forward defence lines (FDL) at Muhamalai, Nagar Kovil and Kilali.

While mass scale bodies had to be restricted, a few such operations would be in order. Ahead of the country’s Diamond Jubilee of Independence, either side would like to make a dent in the enemy’s lines.

But, until such a large-scale thrust is undertaken; targets in the North and the Wanni were continually under attack by the security forces this week.

According to intercepted LTTE messages, 15 Tigers were killed and double the number injured during the confrontations in Jaffna FDLs. Lt Bopage of the Infantry Regiment and two soldiers were killed. Lt N.M. Rajapakse and another soldier were killed in action in Muhamalai on Thursday (24), while five LTTE cadres were killed during the confrontation.

In another incident, two leading LTTE cadres, including Kengan, who carried out attacks in government controlled areas, were killed.

Meanwhile, in Mannar, during a confrontation at Periyakulam, two soldiers were killed and six others injured, while 14 Tigers were killed in Pandivirichchan, Anandankulam, Marandamode, and Kallikulam areas. A total of 29 Tigers were killed in all these areas on Thursday (24). At Periyapanchakulam in Vavuniya, on Sunday (20), two LTTE regional leaders were gunned down, according to the Military. The security forces recovered six bodies, including those of Kugan and Manju. Troops from 59 Division, advancing from Weli Oya, killed another two dozen Tigers over the week.

Government military strategists believe that by killing Tigers in small numbers, the Army would be able to unsettle the LTTE, to strike hard later.


Karuna attacked in UK prison

To face war crimes charges

LTTE renegade commander Karuna Amman, who was sentenced to nine months in a British prison after being charged with having entered the country on false travel documents, has been allegedly tortured in the prison, The Nation learns.

Reports reaching Colombo said that Karuna was sent to a maximum security prison as a political prisoner and was to be housed with other Tamil inmates who had been charged with other crimes.

It is said that fellow Tamil inmates had either poured hot water on the former rebel leader or assaulted him with a weapon, compelling the authorities to provide him medical treatment.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Karuna Amman after serving his nine month sentence in a British prison would face charges for war crimes.

Human rights activists told The Nation that once the nine months are completed, it was unlikely that Karuna would actually be deported to Sri Lanka, because several international human rights organizations in the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are campaigning for the prosecution of Karuna for committing serious human rights violations, including war crimes.
“It is possibile that these organisations would pressure the British authorities to file a case against Karuna, whilst he is in prison.

UK prison If he is found guilty of the charges leveled against him, which includes killings, abductions, torture and child soldier recruitment, he could be locked up again, as soon as he is released, ,” the activists noted.

Meanwhile, Karuna’s legal representative, David Philips, told the BBC after the judgment that the LTTE renegade leader might apply for political asylum, after serving the prison sentence.

“He hasn’t applied for asylum because until the sentencing takes place for a criminal case, no immigration officer will ever entertain an application,” he said.



Source: Jayasuriya

Mass graves and claymore blasts

By Ranga Jayasuriya

The forth Eelam war is becoming increasingly brutal and dirty. Sri Lanka is sliding back into violence that had been characteristic of the last two decades of its history.
After the failure of a long drawn out effort to seek peace through negotiations, the country is back to the square one.
It was only a week ago that the Tiger cadres massacred 47 civilians in the rural Uva and Deep Down South. A bus full of passengers was blown up in a claymore mine explosion and later the assassins shot dead the survivors at close range.

That is not the end of the story. Grisly scenes of death are becoming synonymous with the Sri Lankan life. More corpses turned up last week and strange enough some government officials wanted to suppress the news.
On Thursday (24), two Muslims in Kirikotuwewa, Kebithigollawa, who went to the jungle to round up their cattle, were the first to see the gruesome sight. They saw a hand jutting out from a marshland. Later, People looked in horror as police unearthed 16 decomposed bodies from two pits. Victims had not been identified as of Saturday. No complaints of the mass disappearance of civilians had been received in Anuradhapura, according to the police.
The bodies were buried 250 metres from the Horowpathana - Kebithigollewa Road, in the jungle.
The government’s Media Centre for National Security blamed the Tigers for the killings.
The MCNS said: “Police have found several bodies of youth dumped in a swamp at Kiriketuwewa on the Horoupathana - Kebithigollawa road by suspected LTTE terrorists this evening, January 24.
Police said the victims are believed to be a group of civilians who had gone searching for their cattle.
The victims were apparently hacked to death, the sources added,” the MCNS said.

An attempt to suppress the news

However, the flipside of the story is that the government tried to suppress the news of the discovery of two mass graves. The Director General of the Media Centre for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalla telephoned newspapers and told them not to publish the story. He said that the young men were killed by the LTTE and that the publication of the news could trigger an ethnic backlash. Hence, the request for the non publication of the story. Some newspapers, indeed, obliged while the others downplayed the story.
That was a peculiar request to make at the first place, what is more astonishing is the rationale behind it.
Only a week ago some 27 passengers were blown up in Buttala. But, the South didn’t erupt in an ethnic backlash. People in this country have acted with restrain in the face of the attempts to trigger communal backlash. This country has been through massacres, bombing and suicide killings perpetrated by the guerrillas, yet never did people go on rampage against fellow Tamils during the last twenty years. The Sri Lankan polity has reformed a lot since its ignominious experiment of the anti-Tamil pogrom in July 1983. However, the media wizards of the MCNS seemed to have thought otherwise. Later, the MCNS declared civilians, who went searching for their cattle, had been killed by the LTTE. However, the nature of the killings has raised more questions.
The victims were killed in execution style. Some were blindfolded and their hands tied to behind. Of the victims, 15 were male and the other was a female.
The developments in the immediate aftermath of the discovery indicated an attempt to downplay the incident. Culprits are at large and probably will never be brought to justice.
The bitter but stubborn truth in the country’s increasingly dirty war is that lines of engagement have become increasingly blurred.
However, the discovery of the two mass graves would like to add further strains on the government’s human rights record. This is not to suggest the culpability of the government’s security apparatus.
It can be the LTTE, or anyone else who is behind the killings. However it is the obligation of the government to probe the killings and bring culprits to justice. Attempts to downplay the killings could only backfire.
Meanwhile the autopsy of the victims was held in Anuradhapura yesterday.
The nation is witnessing a spate of violence, which was largely controlled during the first three years of the truce agreement.
Human rights and civil liberties are increasingly compromised - of course it is accepted that certain civil liberties could be curtailed under extraordinary circumstance, but it is also universally accepted that the right to life is an exception.
This government’s dilemma in fighting one of the most ruthless extremist movements in the world is well understood. Perhaps, the ranking of this government by most rights groups may not do justice to the precarious situation the government had been forced in. However, it must be said that certain highhanded actions and the over reliance on its hard-line allies have contributed to the government’s dilemma.

Forces advance

These developments are taking place as the security forces supported by five offensive divisions are gradually pushing into the Wanni heartland of the LTTE.
Two hours after dawn of Monday (21), Special Infantry troops of the 53 and 55 Divisions sneaked ahead of their forward defence localities in Muhamalai, Elithumattuwal and Nagar Kovil.
Under the cover of darkness, troops advanced cautiously on a land plagued with booby-traps and anti personnel mines. Extra precautionary measures had been taken to avoid mine fields, which had been identified in the reconnaissance missions. During the last major offensive ahead of the Northern defence lines on the eve of the Budget, a soldier, while taking up the assault positions, stepped on a Bangalore torpedo, which alerted the guerrillas.
This time around, when the troops assaulted the enemy positions, it took the LTTE cadres by total surprise.
Guerrillas seemed to have miscalculated the security forces action, said a senior military official.
The LTTE cadres who were manning the forward defence localities were of the impression that the attack was another remote assault. But it took only a matter of seconds for 27 heavily fortified bunkers of the LTTE to come under a heavy volume of fire by troops.
A military official said the primary defence line of the LTTE is sparsely manned. That is a tactic put in place in response to the regular attacks on the guerrilla defence line by Special Infantry Operation troops.
Twenty four bunkers were completely destroyed; this included four bunkers in Nagar Kovil, 12 bunkers on the East of A 9 Road and eight bunkers on the West of A9 Road.
The Army said at least 15 LTTE cadres were killed and 30 wounded. Two soldiers were killed and nine wounded in fighting. This included four soldiers classified as P 1 injuries and five soldiers, classified P 2 injuries.
As troops took over the bunkers, Tigers withdrew to their secondary defence line from where they fought back the advancing troops.
Holding ground has not been the intention of the recent military operations in the Northern theatre. The two main objectives of these missions were: (a) gradual annihilation of the man power of the enemy (b) Keeping the enemy occupied with defensive actions.
Thus, by five thirty in the morning, troops have returned to their original positions. They also recovered a 40 mm grenade launcher.
Indeed, bitter battles are yet to flare up. What troops are engaged now is the softening up of tiger positions through regular limited offensives.
According to the statistics given by the Defence Ministry, 636 LTTE cadres and 26 soldiers have been killed since the start of the new year.
However, these figures could not be verified independently.
What is, however, obvious is that the forth Eelam war is set to unfold with a greater ferocity in the coming months. Public should brace themselves for the inevitable.