The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Friday, 18 January 2008

Countries issue travel warning to Sri Lanka

By Paul Emmanuel – TNS

COLOMBO – Following government of Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire agreement and the serious escalation of violence in the Island nation, countries around the globe started issuing travel warning to its citizens not to travel to Sri Lanka.


Germany issued a new travel advisory, warning its citizens against travel to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan government’s decision to withdraw from the Ceasefire agreement, travel and trade sources said. Germany is Sri Lanka’s number one tourist market and the new travel advisory could have serious repercussions on the trade, warns the sources.


Foreign Affairs of Canada also advises against non-essential travel to Sri Lanka. “Travellers should be aware that incidents of violence can occur without notice throughout the entire country and is not restricted to the north and east of Sri Lanka,” it further said.

“Tensions between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE are high. The number of violent attacks causing deaths has increased since the Sri Lankan government announced its withdrawal from the cease-fire agreement established with the LTTE in 2002. While foreigners have not been targeted in the specific attacks, explosions have occurred in public areas including on the road from the capital to the airport. The security situation could deteriorate quickly and without warning,” the Foreign Affairs statement further said.

“In January 2008, several violent attacks have occurred causing injuries and fatalities. Victims have included military personal, government officials and civilians. Bombings have taken place in a variety of cities, including Colombo
,” the statement said.


Australian government also has issued a travel warning not to travel to Sri Lanka. “We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Sri Lanka at this time because of ongoing civil unrest, the volatile security situation and the very high risk of terrorist attacks. Attacks occur frequently and further attacks can happen at any time, anywhere in Sri Lanka. Australians could inadvertently become victims of violence directed at others, in particular Sri Lankan government and military targets,” the statement warns travelers.

“Tensions between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are high. There has been a significant escalation in the number of serious incidents of politically motivated violence, including in tourist areas in the centre and south of the country. On 2 January 2008, the Government of Sri Lanka announced it would withdraw from the ceasefire agreement it signed in 2002 with the LTTE. The security situation could deteriorate further without warning,” the statement further notes.

“A recent escalation of conflict in the north and other parts of the country may provoke further attacks, including in Colombo. The death of the leader of the LTTE's political wing may also increase the risk of retaliatory attacks by the LTTE in any part of Sri Lanka. Due to the on-going conflict, the international airport could be closed without warning and commercial aircraft could be at risk, particularly at night,” the statement said.


Russian Foreign Ministry recommends Russians to cancel trips to Sri Lanka

Russia's Foreign Ministry has issued a recommendation to Russian citizens to refrain from trips to Sri Lanka in the wake of growing terrorist activity on the part of Tamil Eelam Liberation Tigers.

"This organization has noticeably stepped up its terrorist activity of late," a source at the Foreign Ministry said Friday. "There've been four terrorist acts in succession and they carried away many human lives."

"In the light of it, the Foreign Ministry recommends Russian citizens to refrain from trips to Sri Lanka until the situation in that country returns to normal," the source said.


34 killed in Lankan clashes

Twenty-two LTTE militants were killed in clashes with government forces in Sri Lanka's embattled north, while 10 civilians were shot dead by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's South-East.

Two security personnel also lost their lives during confrontations yesterday, the army said.

Today, Air Force fighter jets and the Army carried out attacks on rebel positions in the north. "At Mullaithivu, Air Force fighter jets successfully bombed a LTTE military and storage complex at Walipuram this morning," the Defence Ministry said.

"The target was taken based on ground intelligence after conducting air reconnaissance," it said adding pilots confirmed the mission was executed successfully.

Meanwhile, in a brutal incident, suspected LTTE militants last night gunned down ten civilians at a village in the South East, the army said.

"A group of LTTE militants have carried out a cowardly attack at the civilians at Kalawalgala, a remote village in the Thanamalwila area around 10 pm last night," it said adding 10 civilians were killed.

It is believed the militants killed the civilians after forcibly taking them to a jungle patch before the villagers became suspicious, the Defence Ministry said.

Troops engaged in search operations found six bodies this morning after recovering four yesterday. The rebels had laid anti-personnel mines in the area in order to slow down army pursuit, it said.

In clashes in Jaffna yesterday, troops recovered the body of a Tiger militants with gun-shot wounds although he had also chewed a cyanide capsule, the army said.

In separate clashes in the region, five militants were gunned down by the security forces yesterday, the army said.

"Meanwhile, two soldiers were killed and similar numbers injured in three separate confrontations with LTTE in the Mannar front in North Western Sri Lanka," it said.

Later, around 6:10 pm yesterday, troops repulsed an LTTE offensive attempt at the general area of Chettikulama, Mannar killing at least seven LTTE cadres, security sources said.

In ground clashes, the army said troops killed four LTTE female cadre today while destroying their bunker at Omanthai west in Northern Vavuniya.

At Chenkaladi area in Eastern Batticaloa, one LTTE militant was killed when troops fired at a group of rebels in the early hours of today, it added.

Meanwhile, four militants were killed in a confrontation in Kurunchchikulam area in Vavuniya yesterday, the Media Centre for National Security said.


Lanka to import 30,000 tonnes of Indian rice

Sri Lanka has decided to import immediately 30,000 tonne of non-basmati pooni rice from India to fight the high inflation rate which is in double digits now owing to a rise in the cost of essential commodities.

"The government will import 30,000 tonne of Indian rice that could be brought from Singapore as the export price charged by the Indian traders could touch 500 dollars a tonne," an official said here.

The Lankan government is to import the quantum of rice in two weeks to reduce the domestic prices.

According to statistics, the high wheat flour prices have brought about a decline in its consumption by about 40 per cent in the past two weeks.

As a result, the demand for rice has sharply increased, to the tune of 2,000 tonne in the recent days, sending the prices through the roof.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government has ordered quick release of 19,000 tonne of rice from government stocks to sales outlets.

Earlier in the month, India has agreed to a proposal sent by the Lankan Food Ministry to raise export price of rice. Subsequently, the Director General of Foreign Trade in Inida issued the notification fixing the minimum export price at $500 per tonne FOB (Free on Board).

India decided to partially lift a ban on rice export last October by fixing the MEP at USD $425 per tonne.

New Delhi had imposed the ban on exports of non-basmati rice on October 9 to build buffer stock and improve domestic supplies.


U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Visits Sri Lanka to Review Maritime Cooperation

Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, visited Sri Lanka January 17-18 as part of a regional trip to south Asia to meet with his naval counterparts. Admiral Willard reviewed ongoing maritime cooperation, including naval training and exchanges, between the United States and Sri Lanka. In Colombo, he met with senior military officials and called on President Rajapaksa. In addition, he visited Trincomalee to discuss U.S.-Sri Lankan cooperation against LTTE terrorism. Admiral Willard reaffirmed the support of the United States to Sri Lanka in defending against terrorist activity through cooperation on maritime security. He noted that improvements in human rights protection could lead to enhanced cooperation.

Source: Tamilnet

Mahinda Rajapakse meets with visiting U.S. Admiral Robert F.Willard, commander of Pacific Fleet

Pictures: (AP Photo/ Sudath Silva, President's office HO)


'Tirupur Mayor receives threatening calls from person in London'

Tirupur Mayor K Selvaraj was on Friday said to have received threatening calls from a person in London, demanding a 'hefty amount' to help a particular movement fighting for the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka 'or else face dire consequences', police sources said.

According to the sources, the person, who called on the Mayor's mobile phone reportedly threatened to eliminate him if he failed to give the money. Since Selvaraj was not fluent in English, he disconnected the line. However the man called again and threatened him in English.

On receiving a third call, the Mayor rushed to the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police here and handed over the mobile phone to him. As the DSP started talking, the caller asked him to hand over the handset to Selvaraj.

This time, the caller spoke in Tamil, with a Sri Lankan accent and repeated the threat, the sources said.

Selvaraj was not available for his comments. Senior police officials were tightlipped on the issue.

The mayor has so far not lodged a formal complaint, the sources added.

Selvaraj is the first mayor of Tirupur Corporation, which was upgraded from a Muncipality on January 1.

Source: The Hindu

Sri Lanka Air Force raids LTTE military complex

Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets this morning bombed a LTTE military and arms storage complex in Wallipuram, north of Pudukudirippu in northern Sri Lanka.

“Based on ground intelligence after conducting air reconnaissance this target was engaged,” a senior Air Force official said. Pilots confirmed the mission executed successfully, he said.

However, there were no comments from the LTTE about the Air Force latest claims.

Yesterday, the Air Force claimed that its fighter jets pounded a rebel leaders’ hideout and destroyed it successfully.

Meanwhile, troops killed four female Tiger cadres today in Omanthai in Vavuniya and destroyed a LTTE bunker, Media Center for National Security said

Defense Ministry reported that at least eleven terrorists were killed in clashes erupted yesterday (17) at Wanni and Northern defences as troops advanced into non-liberated territory, ahead of LTTE defences. Two soldiers also were killed during confrontations.

Source: Colombopage

Tamil Tigers strike terror in Sinhalese heartland

By P.K. Balachandran, Colombo, Jan 18 : In the new phase of the Sri Lankan war following the abrogation of the ceasefire agreement, Tamil Tiger rebels are systematically terrorising villagers in the deep south of the country, the heartland of the majority Sinhalese community.

After the massacre of 28 Sinhalese civilian bus passengers and poor farmers in the Buttala area of the southern district of Moneragala Wednesday, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) went on to kill nine Sinhalese villagers in Kalawalgala in the same district Thursday.

The defence ministry said that troops combing the area had recovered six bodies and that three more remained to be located. Progress was impeded by the anti-personnel mines laid by the LTTE.

After blasting the passenger bus full of factory workers and some schoolchildren, LTTE operatives had opened fire on the hapless and screaming victims, military spokesperson Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara told IANS.

The assailants then started hacking and shooting villagers in the area, who were farmers eking out a living through the primitive technique of "chena", or slash and burn cultivation.

The villagers chosen to be eliminated were dragged into the jungle and hacked, the defence ministry said.

According to local military experts, who did not want to be identified, the LTTE is now trying hard to bring the war to the Sinhalese heartland in southern Sri Lanka, which is the main support base of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

For the last 25 years, the war has been fought in the Tamil-speaking northeast. If there were terrorist strikes, they had been almost entirely in the capital city of Colombo and its surroundings. The hinterland, the main political base of the Sinhalese politicians, had not been touched.

But it is different now.

The LTTE is angry with Rajapaksa for unilaterally calling off the 2002 ceasefire agreement with it. It had said so when withdrawing Scandinavian truce monitors met its leaders in Kilinochchi a few days ago.

Apparently, the LTTE is hoping that the terrorisation of the Sinhalese heartland in the south will sooner or later result in the people there asking the Rajapaksa government to go slow on the military operations in the north, and perhaps even enter into a ceasefire agreement again.

Already, there are signs that the people in the deep south are feeling the pinch. Schools in the Uva province were closed for the week Wednesday, after the bus blast and the hacking of villagers.

The other worrying aspect is that the areas in which terror had struck are close to major tourist and pilgrimage centres.

The famous temple for Lord Skanda or Muruga, is nearby, at Kataragama, and the Yala National Park is not far away.

Yala is now well and truly an area of military operations. The army chief, Lt. Gen. Sarath Foneska, had rushed to Yala to inspect the security arrangements there following the bus blast and the gruesome hackings of villagers.


iTRO urges countries to allow diaspora help

International Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, iTRO, based in U.K., in a press release issued this week following the unilateral abrogation of Cease Fire Agreement by the Government of Sri Lanka, appealed to the Governments of the West "to allow space for the Tamil Diaspora to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to their people. International organizations have been restricted in their ability to access the affected areas and deliver the necessary relief and the GoSL has restricted food, medicine, fuel and construction materials to the Vanni. As a result in many areas TRO is the only organization with access to the war and tsunami affected populations," the release said.

Source: Tamilnet

Communist Party of India concerned at Sri Lanka situation

CHENNAI: The Communist Party of India (CPI) on Thursday expressed deep concern at the situation in Sri Lanka, and sought a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

A resolution to this effect was adopted at the National Council meeting of the party here.

Noting that the armed conflict in Sri Lanka had claimed over 65,000 lives since 1983, it said ceasefire declared by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was unilaterally terminated by the government.

“The National Council of the CPI is of the view that a military offensive cannot be a solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. The Tamils of Sri Lanka are striving for peaceful co-existence with equal rights over these years. The legitimate aspirations of Tamils in Sri Lanka with all democratic and human rights must be safeguarded through a proper mechanism for devolution of powers on the basis of federal principles within Sri Lanka,” the resolution noted.

Source: The Hindu

January 16 BUS ATTACK video


LTTE planned to abduct Sri Lankan Tamil politician in India

By M.R. Narayan Swamy

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) The arrest of a Tamil Tiger operative on charges of planning the abduction from India of a prominent Sri Lankan Tamil politician is the first time the rebels have gone this far since the 1991 killing of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

According to home ministry sources, the Intelligence Bureau played a key role in the arrest Thursday night of Thambiturai Parameswaran alias Surli alias Nathan from Madipakkam, a thickly populated Chennai suburb near an IT corridor that is home to many Sri Lankan Tamils.

Nathan, who entered India illegally by sea in February 2007, has been described as a member of the intelligence wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He had been tasked with the responsibility of planning the kidnapping of Annamalai Varadaraja Perumal, the former chief minister of Sri Lanka's northeastern province who has lived in and around the Indian capital for years under Indian protection.

A native of Jaffna, Nathan had bought a van in Chennai that he plied as a taxi to give himself a respectable cover. He had over a period of time moved close to two relatives in the area of Perumal, as he is widely known, and also Douglas Devananda, Sri Lanka's rabidly anti-LTTE Tamil cabinet minister.

Devananda, who has escaped several assassination attempts blamed on the LTTE, is a frequent visitor to India.

Following Nathan's arrest, the Tamil Nadu Police took into custody seven other Sri Lankan Tamil men who were identified only as Reagan, Anand, Kesavan, Paris, Akilan, Sudarsanan and Aravindan.

All seven apparently acted as Nathan's sub-agents, collecting information that was passed on to the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

According to home ministry sources, the likely kidnapping of Perumal could have taken place when his eldest daughter was to get married next month in Rajasthan, where he had lived under protection in Ajmer city before moving closer to the Indian capital.

Nathan had reportedly offered his taxi to the relative of Perumal he had befriended so as to drive him to Rajasthan - and thus get close to the intended victim.


11 civilians killed by suspected Tamil rebels

Eleven civilians were killed and a paramilitary guard was injured in three related attacks by suspected Tamil rebels in a remote village in south-eastern Sri Lanka that had been infiltrated by guerillas, military sources said Friday. The incidents took place late Thursday in Thanamalwila, 290 kilometres south-east of Colombo. The death toll increased Friday with the recovery of more bodies. The attacks took place about 40 kilometres from where a claymore mine tore through a passenger bus Wednesday, killing 27 passengers and injuring 63. The perpetrators then opened fire on farmers nearby, killing six more people. The government blamed Tamil separatist rebels. Troops have mounted a search operation for guerillas who have infiltrated the area. As an additional security measure, villagers are to be recruited to the paramilitary unit known as the Civil Defence Force and deployed in the vulnerable areas. All of them are to be armed. The Sri Lankan government officially terminated a six-year cease-fire with the rebels on Wednesday. Fighting has escalated during the past two years and more than 5,600 have been killed during the period.

funeral of the innocents

Pictures: REUTERS/Stringer(SRI LANKA)

Three dead bodies and 03 injured from the attack on Kalawelgala village taken to Thanamalwila Hospital

Thanamalwila Hospital sources say that three dead bodies and three injured from the terrorist attack on Hambegamuwa Kalawelgala Village unleashed at 1.00 am today have been brought to the Thanamalwila Hospital.

The injured are being rushed to the hospital by the Army and the villagers.

Source: Lanka Truth


Source: the boss

Dialogue only way out in Sri Lanka: Ban Ki-moon

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: Amid claims by the military that at least 25 LTTE cadres were killed in the last 24 hours in the north, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said dialogue is the only way to stop further violence.

Strongly condemning the indiscriminate attacks in the south-east on Wednesday which left dozens dead and injured, Mr. Ban said the attacks coincided with the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement.

The military claimed that 17 cadres were killed in Wednesday’s clashes. It said in the Wanni theatre of battle, the Army continued its multi-pronged attack throughout the day. Separately, fighter jets claimed to have targeted an LTTE “senior leaders’ gathering” at Jayapuram in Killinochchi on Thursday. However, the pro-LTTE TamilNet alleged that 790 children and 22 teachers at the Kanakapuram Maha Viththiyaalayam school had a narrow escape when four fighter jets dropped bombs barely 100 meters away from their school in the Kilinochchi suburb.


Map of Mannar


SLC bans Atapattu and two others for participating in ICL

Colombo, Jan 17 (UNI) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has banned former captain Marvan Atapattu along with two others from all international and domestic cricket matches for participating in the rebel Indian Cricket Leagues' (ICL) Twenty20 tournament.

''We had warned the players about the consequences and we'll stick to the guidelines,'' Chief Executive of Sri Lanka Cricket, Duleep Mendis said.

Russel Arnold and Upul Chandana are the other players who have been banned by the SLC.

SLC has sent letters to SSC and NCC (the clubs of the three players) stating that the players should not be considered for any national or domestic tournaments sanctioned by it.


Kumble joins Muralitharan and Warne by passing 600

PERTH, Jan 17 (Reuters) India captain Anil Kumble joined one of cricket's most exclusive clubs when he captured his 600th test wicket during the third Test against Australia today.

Kumble joined fellow spinners Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka and Australia's Shane Warne as the only players to take more than 600 test scalps when he had Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds caught at slip by Rahul Dravid.

Kumble, who picked up another wicket for good measure to finish off the Australian innings, said he was humbled by the achievement.

''It means a lot, you never think when you first start off that you will reach that milestone, but having played this long you keep crossing landmarks and milestones,'' he told a news conference.

''When you first start off, people don't even think you will last two test matches, so it means a lot. You have the belief and you have the faith.'' Despite being the third greatest wicket-taker in cricket history, Kumble has rarely received the same recognition as Muralitharan and Warne.

A tall wrist-spinner who has often been criticised for not turning the ball a lot, Kumble has long silenced his doubters over a distinguished 18-year career, achieving several feats that neither Muralitharan or Warne have managed.

Along with England's Jim Laker, Kumble is one of only two bowlers to have taken 10 wickets in a test innings, which he achieved against Pakistan in 1998/99.

He achieved the distinction of scoring a century against England last year and was awarded the captaincy the same season, at the ripe old age of 37 after shoulder injuries had briefly stalled his career when he was younger.

Kumble is also one of the most respected players in the game.

Australia's vice-captain Adam Gilchrist rang Kumble when he captured his 500th wicket and was batting at the non-strikers end when Kumble grabbed his 600th.

''I've always found him a real pleasure to play against,'' Gilchrist said of Kumble.

''He's got very clever with his experience and those subtle changes in flight, his position on the crease.

''He's just trying to create a little bit of doubt in the batsmen's mind and he's doing that in an effective fashion.

''It's a real credit to him to get that achievement.''