The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

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