The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

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