The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

35 killed in Lanka clashes, Air Force hits two LTTE targets

At least 33 Tamil Tigers and two soldiers were killed in a series of gun battles in Sri Lanka's north as Air Force jets pounded rebel bases in the embattled region, officials here said on Tuesday.

One of the LTTE's main strategic command and control centres at Kaivelikulam in northern Mullaitivu district was targeted in a raid by the Air Force on Tuesday morning. It was followed by another raid in the south of Karadiyabokku in the rebel-held Killinochchi.

According to defence intelligence sources, the first target was based on real-time ground information that indicated "intensified terror activity" there.

In ground battles, 12 Tamil Tigers were killed in three separate clashes on Monday in Andankulam area of Kokkuthduwai in northeastern Welioya, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said, adding three more rebels were killed in Wedamalai in Vavuniya.

Two militants were killed in Navatkulam in Vavuniya on Monday while two rebels were gunned down in Sirikulam and Adampan areas of North-western Mannar, the army said.

Source :

Fresh fighting in Sri Lanka kills 20 rebels, 2 soldiers, military says

By RAVI NESSMAN,Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - A fresh round of fighting between security forces and Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka's volatile north killed 20 rebels and two soldiers as air force jets bombed two suspected rebel bases, the military said Tuesday.

The combatants were killed in 10 separate battles Monday in the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya regions just south of the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in northern Sri Lanka, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.

The air force also sent fighter jets to bomb a suspected rebel operations center Tuesday morning, and hours later they raided a command and communications base, the military said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the air raids.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer a telephone call seeking comment, but each side routinely disputes its opponent's version of events.

A pro-rebel Web site reported that two civilians were killed in the airstrike.

Fighting between the two sides has escalated in recent months as senior government officials vowed to crush the rebels this year and end more than two decades of civil war. Government troops have opened up four fronts around rebel-held territory, while the air force has targeted the group's leadership.

With fighting increasing in the north, suspected rebels have launched a wave of attacks against civilian and military targets in government-controlled territory in the southern part of this Indian Ocean island nation.

On Monday, a roadside bomb attack on a civilian bus in the Welioya region, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Colombo, killed 14 people and wounded 15 others, marring celebrations of the country's 60th independence day.

Another roadside bombing in the southeastern town of Buttala killed one soldier and injured two others, the military said.

Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday that the government and Tamil Tiger rebels are "failing to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and are killing civilians on an increasingly regular basis."

"With no perpetrators brought to justice a climate of impunity is becoming entrenched: Unless these patterns are reversed the future appears bleak," the statement quoted Tim Parritt, deputy program director for Asia-Pacific, as saying.

The attacks came amid a security clampdown in the capital, Colombo, to discourage violence during the independence celebration.

Tanks, jets, attack boats and thousands of troops paraded through Colombo to mark the holiday as President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated his vow to destroy the rebels.

"Our defense forces have achieved victories that were never before seen. Terrorism is facing a defeat that it has never before faced," he said.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of being marginalized by Sinhalese-dominated governments. More than 70,000 people have died in the fighting.

A 2002 cease-fire fostered hopes for a lasting peace, but the truce broke down as new fighting over the past two years killed 5,000 people. The government officially pulled out of the agreement last month.

Source: AP

Karunanidhi says, even ready to step down over Tiger issue

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi hit back at Congress leaders and announced on Sunday that he was even ready to face a change of power in the state over false allegations of supporting the LTTE. Speaking at a marriage function at the DMK headquarters. In the function well-attended by several Congress leaders, Karunanidhi alleged that some people were trying to topple his government by indulging in a 'conspiracy' and requested Congressmen not to become a party to it.

"I regret that the Congress leaders speak as if Tamil Nadu has become the hunting ground for the Liberation Tigers. If such a situation arises, I shall be the first person who shall stand up to prevent it. Not only the Congress, but the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Dravida Kazhagam (DK) also share this responsibility. All the allies of the DMK party have this responsibility. I feel that even the Viduthalai Chiruththaikal Katchi (VCK), whose speeches makes us wonder whether they are really part of the alliance, also has this responsibility," he said.

Congress leader and Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's accusatory remarks in a public meeting at Nagerkovil on Saturday was the immediate cause for Karunanidhi's ire.

The chief minister reiterated that legal action would be taken against anyone who indulges in anti-national activity in Tamil Nadu.

Though he had announced this is in the State Assembly, he regretted that Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu kept accusing him of giving room to the LTTE.

"A Congress leader, who gave a media interview that 'Karunanidhi doesn't support the LTTE one bit,' accuses me of betraying the nation when he addresses the State Assembly. Congress member Peter Alphonse, who was present in the house should have got up and refuted this statement. Even Chidambaram expresses similar views in a public meeting. I spoke to him and wondered why he had spoken as if the LTTE enjoys support in Tamil Nadu."

Karunanidhi reeled out statistics of those arrested for indulging in pro-LTTE activities in the state ever since his government assumed power on May 15, 2006: 12 cases had been filed against the Tigers, 103 people had been arrested in these cases, of whom 13 belonged to the LTTE. Moreover, 92 LTTE supporters had been arrested, of whom 31 were Lankan Tamils and the remaining were Indian Tamils. Currently, 40 people are detained in prisons under the National Security Act, and three of them are Tamil Tigers, Karunanidhi said.

Karunanidhi said that Congress leaders should not fall into the trap of forces inimical to the progress of Tamils. He reminded the gathering that he was a disciple of the late Annadurai who had given up the demand for a separate Dravida Nadu to strengthen the unity of India.

Source: tamilnet

On Lanka I-Day, British Tamils demand rights

British Tamils marked the 60th anniversary of Sri Lankan independence on Monday with a several-hundred strong Downing Street demonstration demanding "real freedom" and "real rights" for the community, even as the protestors were branded members of the LTTE, which is banned in the UK.

Meanwhile, at least 14 people were killed in two roadside bombings in Sri Lanka on Monday, as the island's president marked independence day by insisting he was winning the war against Tamil Tigers. In an address to the nation, President Rajapakse said the "challenge bestowed upon us by history is the defeat of terrorism," and said government forces had cornered the LTTE)in the north.

The demonstration was called by the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO), which is spread across eight European countries, Canada and the US. Tamil sources said British and European politicians were expected to attend.

It came as the British Tamils Forum organised a photo exhibition near the British parliament with the professed aim of educating the second-generation of Tamils in the UK about "the past 60 years of oppression, ethnic cleansing and discrimination that largely the Tamil community has faced at the hands of the sovereign state of Sri Lanka". Expatriate Tamil angst has swelled in recent weeks, after Colombo formally ended a 2002 cease-fire with the rebel LTTE.

But Sri Lankan sources criticized the Downing Street protest as yet another instance of the banned LTTE managing to hoodwink the British authorities. According to sources, the protest, which reportedly drew at least 400 people, was organized by AC Shanthan, who allegedly heads the LTTE here and Golden Lambert. Both the main organizers are said to have formerly been arrested under Britain's anti-terrorist laws and are allegedly out on bail at present. Both men are said to be prominent fund-raisers for the LTTE.

The TYO organized a well-attended rally in central London's Hyde Park in July 2006. Sources said Shanthan and Lambert were subsequently arrested under Britain's anti-terrorism laws which ban monetary and moral support for a proscribed organization by way of speeches and fund-raising. The British Tamil Forum said it intended its photographic exhibition to travel to several major cities in the UK, Canada, Australia, the US and South Africa.