The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Airtel signs $100-mn investment agreement to start Lankan ops

Bharti Airtel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, has signed a 100-million dollars investment agreement with the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka to begin Lankan operation by this year.

The agreement, signed yesterday, is the second phase of the company's commitment to invest 200 million dollars in Sri Lanka over the next 5 years, officials of BOI said.

With mobile penetration in Sri Lanka estimated at around 30 per cent and growing at a rate of approximately 2 million mobile users per annum, Bharti is looking at cornering a high market share in the next few years.

According to the officials, Airtel is expected to begin operations in a big way in Sri Lanka by this year end.

It will, however, have to compete with the Telekom Malaysia-owned Dialog Telecom (the largest operator in Sri Lanka), Celltel Lanka (owned by Luxembourg-based service provider Millicom International Cellular), Hutchison (owned by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecommunications) and Sri Lankan government-owned Mobitel.

Sri Lanka now has 2.7 million fixed access subscribers, 7.9 million mobile and 2,00,000 internet and email subscribers.

"The investment will enable Airtel here to roll out all passive infrastructure necessary to gear up the company for launch of its services," a BOI statement said.

It said this underlined the company's (Airtel) commitment to deliver quality services to the mobile subscriber market in Sri Lanka.


33 rebels killed in Lanka clashes

At least 33 Tamil Tigers were killed in fierce ground clashes with security forces in Sri Lanka's embattled north as the Air Force jets pounded three LTTE camps in the rebel stronghold of Mannar, officials said on Wednesday.

''Air Force fighter jets pounded three LTTE camps, located in the north and east of Madhu area in Mannar this morning,'' the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

In ground clashes, at least one rebel was killed in Thirukkunishwaran area of Mannar on Tuesday, the army said, adding another guerrilla was gunned down in Muhamalai in Jaffna peninsula.

Separately, troops killed three LTTE cadres in Karampakulam in Vavuniya yesterday, the MCNS said.

In another confrontation, at least four rebels were shot dead by security forces at Janakpura in northeast Welioya on Tuesday, it said.

At least five LTTE cadres were killed in Umayaratuwarankulam in Vavuniya yesterday in clashes with security forces, the Defence Ministry said.

In a fierce encounter, troops gunned down nine rebels at Periyawalayanwaddukulam in Vavuniya on Tuesday.

Another five rebels were shot dead by troops in Kontakkarankulam in Vavuniya on Tuesday, the MCNS said, adding five more LTTE cadres were gunned down in Maruthamadu in the same region.

Source: NDTV

LTTE's criticism of India shows outfit is becoming weak: Lanka

Sri Lanka today said the LTTE's outburst against India in the wake of the recent visit of the island nation's Army Chief to the neighbouring country was indicative of the outfit's deteriorating strength.

"We don't bother to what LTTE says (on India) as it is a terrorist organisation. This only shows that they (LTTE) are becoming weak," Foreign Minister Rohithat Bogollagama told reporters here.

Bogollagama said Sri Lankan Army Chief Sarath Fonseka's recent week-long tour to India was part of the visits undertaken "from time to time" by various officials and leaders and should not be seen in any other context.

The LTTE yesterday criticised India for hosting the Sri Lankan army chief and said the "historic blunder" will "reinvigorate" the island's military which was carrying out "ethnic genocide" against the Tamils.

"The LTTE strongly condemns the Indian State's action of extending a state welcome to the military chief of the Sinhala State which has unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire agreement (with the Tamil rebels) and has launched widespread military offensives in the Tamil homeland," it said in a statement.

On the local body elections in eastern Batticaloa swept by a group of former rebels, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said his government was encouraged by its success as it was conducted in a peaceful manner with a high turnout.

Source: PTI

Sri Lanka charges Tamil Tiger leader for murder

The Sri Lankan authorities have filed indictment against the leader of the rebel Liberation Tigersof Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Velupillai Prabakaran for the murder of former foreign minister, officials said Tuesday.

Officials from the Attorney General's Department said that Prabakaran and five other rebels were charged on Tuesday for the August 2005 murder of then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

A fellow Tamil, Kadirgamar was gunned down near the swimming pool of his Colombo home by a LTTE gunman. Kadirgamar had led an international campaign against the rebels which resulted in several countries banning the rebel outfit.

The Colombo High Court in October 2002 sentenced Prabakaran for 200 years imprisonment for bombing the country's Central Bank building and killing about 100 people in January 1996 in trial held in absentia.

The Sri Lankan authorities have not been able to arrest the LTTE leader as he lives in the rebel hideout in the island's Northern Province.

Prabakaran's LTTE has been fighting the government troops since the mid-1980s to set up a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east, resulting in the killing of more than 70,000 people.