The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Parappakandal under army control, 23 killed in Lanka clashes

Sri Lankan army on Thursday brought the entire town suburb of Parappakandal in Mannar district under its control even as 22 rebels and a soldier died in clashes in other parts of the embattled Northern region of the country, the army said on Thursday.

"Parappakandal, one of the major town suburbs to the north of Uyilankulam, was completely brought under the troops this morning, giving another severe setback and humiliation to the Tiger militants who had kept the area under siege," an official statement said.

Troops earlier had the control over south of Parappakandal for a long time but the north of the suburban town was under LTTE domination, it said.

"Today's capture of the whole of Parappakandal marks a turning point since the area has been of strategic importance to the troops," the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

Troops are consolidating their position, it said, adding causalities are yet to be reported.

There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE.

In another incident, five rebels and an army officer were killed in clashes at Mantota in Mannar, the MCNS said.

Separately, the army recovered bodies of a male and female rebels today during search operations in Pallaikuli area of Mannar, it said.

While three militants were killed in Andankulam in North-east Welioya, 11 rebels were killed in two separate incidents at Karumpaikulam and Periyapandivirchchan areas of Vavuniya on Wednesday, the MCNS said.

A rebel was killed in Nochchikulam in Vavuniya on Wednesday, it said.

Source: hindu

Sri Lanka accused of creating crisis

Sri Lankan government forces were accused Thursday of causing a national crisis through widespread abductions and "disappearances."

Human Rights Watch, in a 241-page report, urged the government to reveal the whereabouts of the "disappeared," immediately stop the practice and hold those responsible accountable.

The group called also for the establishment of a U.N. human rights monitoring mission to investigate the reported incidents.

Since major fighting between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam resumed in 2006, Sri Lankan security forces and pro-government armed groups have caused "disappearances" or abducted hundreds of individuals, many of whom are feared dead, the report said.

Most of the victims are ethnic Tamils, although Muslims and Sinhalese have also been targeted. In many cases, the security forces reportedly grabbed individuals because of their alleged affiliation with the Tigers Human Rights Watch said. Clergy, educators, humanitarian aid workers and journalists also were said to be targeted.

Source: UPI

Bhagwati-led intl panel terminates operation in Lanka

An Indian-led international panel of experts, constituted to monitor a Sri Lankan government commission probing human rights abuses, today decided to wind up its operations in the island nation, citing limitations to its functioning.

The 11-member International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), headed by former Indian Chief Justice P N Bhagwati, was tasked with observing the functioning of the Commission and commenting on transparency of its investigations and inquiries.

"The IIGEP has decided that it will terminate its operation in Sri Lanka," a statement by the group said, adding the step had been taken after due consideration and for fundamental reasons.

Besides Bhagwati, the IIGEP included experts and professionals from Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, France, the Netherlands and the US as well as the European Union and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in November 2006 had appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into 16 incidents of alleged serious violations of human rights that took place in the island country since August 1, 2005. He subsequently invited 11 persons of international repute to form the IIGEP.

Source: PTI

Sri Lankan MP killed in mine blast

A Sri Lankan Tamil lawmaker has been killed in a roadside bomb attack as Colombo faced fresh criticism over its rights record.

A vehicle carrying Kiddinan Sivanesan, 51, a legislator from the pro-rebel Tamil National Alliance, was hit by a mine 35 kilometers (21 miles) north of the frontline post of Omanthai in a guerrilla-controlled part of the island.

"The government knew Sivanesan was crossing the Omanthai checkpoint and returning to his home after attending parliament," fellow lawmaker Mavai Senathirajah said.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said the attack, which also killed the driver, was carried out by a "deep penetration unit" of the Sri Lankan army.

The defense ministry has reported that security forces have killed at least 1,837 rebels in 2008. The ministry out the government forces death toll at 107. Three Sri Lankan lawmakers have also been killed this year.

The latest violence came as the island's government was accused of being behind hundreds of "disappearances."

Tens of thousands have died since separatist Tamil Tiger rebels began fighting the Sri Lankan government more than three decades ago.