The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Update: 95 killed in Sri Lanka, Air Force bombs LTTE strong hold

At least 92 Tamil Tigers and three soldiers were killed in intensified fighting in Sri Lanka's embattled north as the security forces said they have reclaimed some rebel-held areas in Mannar in the offensive.

Sri Lankan Air Force also targeted the rebel strongholds of Mannar and Mullaitivu to facilitate the ground attack.

The military offensive to liberate the Wanni region from LTTE yesterday reached a decisive stage as troops obtained domination over the outskirts of Adampan in North-western Mannar, the defence ministry said in a statement today.

As per the military reports received from the Northern battlefronts, at least 92 LTTE cadres were killed and over 15 injured during yesterday's confrontations.

Thirty LTTE cadres were killed by security forces in the north of Parappakandal in Mannar yesterday, the Defence Ministry said.

Separately, at least 13 rebels were killed in clashes in the west of Parapakandal and north of Pallaikuli in Mannar yesterday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

Two soldiers also lost their lives in the confrontations, it said

Source: PTI

Tamil Tiger UN sanctions demand

An international human rights group has called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels for using child soldiers.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has also accused the government of ignoring child recruitment by an allied paramilitary force.

HRW made its allegations as UN experts met to discuss the use of underage soldiers in the Sri Lankan war.

A UN envoy is visiting the island nation to assess the conflict.

Problem continues

"The Security Council should punish their brazen violations with concrete action," HRW child rights advocate Jo Becker said.

Correspondents say that international rights groups have for many years criticised the Tamil Tigers and other armed groups in Sri Lanka for forcibly recruiting children.

The rebels have consistently promised to stop using them.

HRW says that while there is evidence that the recruitment of children has dropped significantly, the problem continues.

According to the UN children's agency, Unicef, there were at least 196 children in the guerrilla force at the end of January.

HRW have also accused the breakaway Tamil Tiger faction led by Col Karuna of recruiting child soldiers.


Col Karuna - who is currently serving a nine month prison sentence in Britain for identity fraud - is now allied with the government.

Ms Becker said that the Tigers and Col Karuna "continue to use children to fight their battles in clear violation of international law and Security Council resolutions".

The Sri Lankan government has sent a three-member team to New York to present its case to UN experts meeting to discuss the problem of child soldiers in Sri Lanka.

"Our position, as far as the government is concerned, has always been a zero tolerance policy on child recruitment," said , said Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.

Rebel spokesmen were not available for comment.

But in the past they have insisted that they are abiding by pledges to stop using child soldiers.

The Tigers have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983. More than 70,000 people have been killed since then.

They say that ethnic minority Tamils have been marginalised for decades by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.

Source: BBC

German mob brutalises Sri Lankan man

Goslar, Germany - A man from Sri Lanka was recovering in hospital on Thursday after being attacked by a mob of Germans on a street, police said.

The 43-year-old suffered severe concussion and bruising during Wednesday night's assault in the town of Goslar, 210km south west of Berlin.

A total of 12 men were involved in the attack, punching and kicking their victim and hitting him with a walking stick. They only stopped when the man lay motionless on the ground, police said.

A police spokesperson said the motive was not immediately clear. The attackers did not appear to be right-wing skinheads, she added.

Racially motivated attacks against foreigners are not unusual in Germany, which has 6,74 million non-Germans in a population of 82 million.

Last weekend, two Vietnamese women and a Lebanese taxi driver were beaten up in Berlin.

In a case that made international headlines, a mob of Germans chased a group of Indians through the east German town of Muegeln and beat them last August.

The leader of the mob was given an eight-month jail term, another received a suspended sentence and a third was fined


Five held for trying to smuggle materials to Lanka

Five persons, including a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee, were arrested today for attempting to smuggle materials including surgical equipment to Sri Lanka, police said.

The Officials said a Q-Branch police DSP who was on patrol duty near Panaikulam in Ramanathapuram district kept a close watch on two persons who were waiting on a bike.

A van and a mini-lorry carrying the contraband arrived at the spot after some time. But on seeing the Q-branch personnel, the driver of the lorry drove away, police said.

However,the van was detained. On search, it was found to carry some cosmetics,surgical equipment, and 'Bunker' bags, they said.

The Sri Lankan Tamil refugee was arrested for arranging money for the smugglers and staying at Paramakudi,police said.

The van and the bike used by the smugglers had been impounded and a hunt had been launched to seize the mini-lorry, which police suspect carried more contraband, the officials said.

They also seized some cell phones.

Police are maintaining strict vigil in the wake of reports of gangs smuggling materials for the LTTE.


Sri Lankan Tamil separatists hail Kosovo's independence declaration

Separatist Sri Lankan Tamils have hailed the emergence of an independent Kosovo with Western support, saying it augurs well for the liberation of "oppressed" minorities like the Tamils of northeast Sri Lanka.

Most Sri Lankans do not relish the prospect of their small island country breaking up on the prodding of powerful Western nations. But while radicals like the Janatha Vimukthi Permuna (JVP) would like the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to take a strong anti-West stance, the liberals are urging restraint on the plea that belligerence will only provoke the West to side with the Tamil separatists when it comes to the crunch.

According to IANS, the Colombo-based radical Tamil daily Sudar Oli in its editorial said it was not surprising that the Sri Lankan government was the first to condemn Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) Sunday.

The paper pointed out that not only Sri Lanka but other nations that faced the prospect of oppressed minority groups seceding had also got the jitters and condemned Kosovo's emergence as an independent state.

It was noteworthy that Kosovo's UDI had the backing of the US and Europe, the paper said. It then went on to argue that Russia, Serbia and other nations opposed to the emergence of Kosovo as an independent country would not be able to prevent it.

"Kosovo's independence is a historical necessity, an unavoidable event," Sudar Oli asserted in the editorial.

Colombo, which dubbed the UDI as a grave threat, was aware that if Kosovo - with 4,200 sq miles and a population of two million - could be independent, 'Tamil Eelam' - with 7,500 sq miles and a population of four million - would have a stronger case for seeking autonomy, Sudar Oli said.

Moreover, the Tamils of the Sri Lanka's north and east had declared independence as their goal way back in 1977 and had made that known to the international community.

With a separate language and culture and a distinct territorial homeland, Sri Lankan Tamils had all the attributes to constitute a nation state, but the Sri Lankan state had suppressed and oppressed them, the daily said.

It was not surprising that the Sri Lankan state was unable to digest the liberation of the people of Kosovo whose attributes and claims were similar to those of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, it added.

"Kosovo shows that the chains of oppression will not last and that some day, they will break," the Tamil paper said.


67 LTTE cadres, 3 soldiers killed in Lanka clashes

At least 67 Tamil Tigers and three soldiers were killed in fierce clashes in Sri Lanka's embattled northern region, officials here said on Thursday.

Thirty LTTE cadres were killed by security forces in the north of Parappakandal in Mannar on Wednesday, the Defence Ministry said.

According to Wanni military sources, Sri Lankan troops "successfully counter attacked an LTTE offensive movement towards the newly consolidated defences at Parappakanda," it said in a statement.

Five soldiers also sustained injuries in the confrontation, military sources said.

Separately, at least 13 rebels were killed in clashes in the west of Parapakandal and north of Pallaikuli in Mannar yesterday, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

Two soldiers also lost their lives in the confrontations, it said.

In Janakapura in northeastern Welioya, at least ten Tiger cadres were gunned down by troops yesterday, the army said, adding one soldier also died in the incident.

In another incident, eight rebels were killed and three wounded in an attack by the security forces in the north of Villathikulam in Vavuniya yesterday, the army said.

Also, intense clashes between army and the rebels at Kallikulam in Vavuniya left six LTTE cadres dead yesterday, the Defence Ministry, said adding "the enemy transmissions confirmed their losses with several more militants either wounded or killed."


LTTE to blame, says NGO

B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The International Crisis Group, a multi-national NGO focusing on conflict zones, said in a report on Wednesday, “With Sri Lanka again in civil war, the international community must concentrate on protecting civilians from the war’s worst effects and supporting those working to preserve its embattled democratic institutions.”

Titled “Sri Lanka’s Return to War: Limiting the Damage,” the latest ICG report explores the costs and likely course of the conflict, which has “no resolution in sight”.

“The government’s desire to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] and end the war definitively is understandable. But by failing to protect human rights or share power with moderate, unarmed Tamil and Muslim political forces, its military approach has strengthened extremists on both sides in an escalating cycle of violence,” it said.

As per the ICG, much of the blame for the resumption in violence lies with the LTTE. “Its ceasefire violations and abuses of the population under its control helped push the government towards war. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also overplayed his hand.”

Meanwhile, three soldiers and dozens of Tiger cadre were killed along the Forward Defence Lines (FDLs), said the military.