The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

India, Sri Lanka review anti-LTTE operations

The heads of Indian and Sri Lankan armies on Tuesday spent some time together in analysing the gains and losses in the ongoing military operation in the Island nation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

After meeting Indian Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, the visiting head of Sri Lankan Army, Lt Gen G S Fonseka, said the political relations between the two countries were on right track and it was time for the armed forces to strengthen ties.

But that was what came out officially from the talks. The sources said Indian Army head took a detailed update on the recent military operations against the LTTE.

The Sri Lankan Army chief sought more cooperation with India which has kept itself away from bloody conflict.

India’s aloofness has forced Sri Lanka to look towards China and Pakistan to fulfil its requirements of military hardware like radars and surveillance equipment.

India only gives non-lethal military assistance to Sri Lanka which is seeking to modernise its armed forces to deal more effectively with LTTE. It needs a good number of aircraft for effective aerial penetration of LTTE strongholds.

At the political level, India reiterated that Sri Lankan Government should come out with a devolution package under the 13th amendment in the Constitution. It wants the Northern and Eastern provinces to be given powers which could not be withdrawn in the future.

Fonseka, who has survived assassination bids, is on a week-long visit to India. He was in Srinagar on Monday when he was briefed about Army’s counter insurgency operations in J&K.

Fonseka arrived in India in the backdrop of his government declaring that military operations against LTTE will not be stopped.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to attend SAARC summit in Kandy later this year.


Sri Lankan gov't says 104 soldiers, policemen killed in February

The Sri Lankan government said Wednesday that some 104 soldiers and police officers were killed in February during the conflicts between government troops and the Tamil Tigers, but the government's military campaign has yielded results.

Nimal Siripala de Silva, health minister and the government's chief negotiator with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) told parliament that 822 soldiers and police personnel were also injured in February in the confrontations in the north.

De Silva added that 80 civilians were killed while 201 were injured in the conflicts.

He said the LTTE has faced a series of military reversals in the north and is facing setbacks internationally, while the government's military campaign against the rebels is yielding results.

Officials from the Media Center for National Security said 871 LTTE rebels were killed in February, in addition to about 500 rebels killed in January.

Sri Lanka's security forces are currently engaging the rebels in the Northern Province with heavy artillery and mortar duels being reported regularly.

Having taken over the control of the Eastern Province last July, government leaders now vow to crush the Tamil Tigers from their last Northern Province bastion.

The LTTE has been fighting the troops since the mid-1980s to carve out a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east, resulting in the death of more than 70,000 people.


Sri Lanka recruits Tamil policemen in east

The Sri Lankan government said Wednesday that it has recruited 175 new police officers from the Tamil minority in the newly liberated Eastern Province and more Tamil police personnel would be recruited in the near future.

Keheliya Rambukwella, the government's defense spokesman and the minister of Foreign Employment told reporters that the 175 police officers have come from some 1,200 applications received and it justified the governmemt's move to recapture the province from the control of Tamil Tiger rebels.

"It is the government's policy to allow for the public to attend to their needs in their own language," Rambukwella said, adding that Tamil people in the east would be able to freely communicate with the Tamil police personnel in the province.

He said the large number of applicants have shown that people are happy to free themselves from the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE was evicted from the province by government troops in July last year.

The LTTE dubbed it a tactical withdrawal from the province which is part of their ultimate goal of a separate homeland for the Tamils.

Rambukwella said 250 more Tamil police personnel would be recruited as the next stage of the government's plan to restore civil administration in the province.

The government has embarked on a massive development drive worth 6.5 billion Sri Lanka rupees (about 59.9 million U.S. dollars) in the province, Rambukwella added.

Government troops and the LTTE are currently engaged in fierce battles in the north. The government is determining to defeat the LTTE, but refrains from giving a time frame.

The LTTE has been fighting the troops since the mid-1980s to carve out a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east.

Source: xinhuanet