The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Sunday, 16 March 2008

LTTE ready for talks if Lankan govt halts attacks

The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka have expressed readiness to hold talks with the government in Colombo if it halted the military operations against them, but warned that the offer should not be seen as "any desperation" on their part to stop the war.

"The LTTE is prepared to commence negotiations with the Sri Lankan government if the government security forces are ordered to halt their military operations. It was the government which started the war," the LTTE political head P Nadesan told a group of Parliamentarians from the pro-rebel Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Wanni recently.

"The offer of the LTTE for a ceasefire and talks should not be construed as any desperation on our (LTTE) part to stop the war. The ball is in the Sri Lankan government's court. It was they who started the armed attack," Nadesan was quoted as saying by Suresh Premachandran, a TNA MP from Jaffna District who was present at the meeting.

Nadesan had held lengthy discussions with the 13 TNA MPs who had gathered for the funeral of their colleague K Sivanesan, who was killed in a roadside bomb attack on March 6 in Wanni.

"The (LTTE) political chief Nadesan said the LTTE can reciprocate if the Sri Lankan government offers a ceasefire but if they want to continue with the attack, the LTTE is fully prepared for it," Premachandran said.

Source: Times Of India

Sri Lanka Military: Fighting Kills 30

Suspected separatist Tamil rebels killed a police officer and a soldier in separate attacks in northern Sri Lanka on Sunday, the military said, taking the death toll from two days of violence to 30.

Tamil Tiger rebels ambushed a motorized rickshaw with a roadside bomb in Vavuniya district, killing one soldier and wounding four others, the military said in a statement.

Also Sunday, guerrillas shot dead a police officer in northern Mannar district, the statement said.

Seven other soldiers and 21 Tamil rebels have been killed in clashes across Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya regions since late Friday, the military said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment.

However, the pro-rebel TamilNet Web site said the rebels beat back advancing troops Friday on three fronts in Mannar and Welioya regions, killing 22 soldiers.

It was not possible to obtain independent accounts of the battles because reporters have been barred from the war zone. Each side routinely exaggerates the other's casualty figures while underreporting its own.

The rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of marginalization by governments controlled by majority Sinhalese.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.

Source: AP via GOOGLE

Anura Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka's famous political dynasty dies at 59

Anura Bandaranaike, a former Sri Lankan foreign minister and member of the country's famous Bandaranaike political dynasty, died Sunday after an illness, a government spokesman said. He was 59.

Both his parents and his sister led Sri Lanka, but Bandaranaike's own political ambitions were frustrated by political battles within his family.

Bandaranaike was first elected to parliament in 1977 and served as minister of higher education, speaker of parliament and opposition leader, but he was never able to rise to the highest office in this Indian Ocean island nation.

He died Sunday, said government spokesman Anusha Pelpita.

Bandaranaike was appointed foreign minister after his predecessor Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated in 2005. He lost the post in a Cabinet reshuffle a few months later, however.

Just a few months before his death, Bandaranaike quit the Cabinet and joined the opposition over differences with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Bandaranaike's father, Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, founded the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and served as prime minister from 1956 until his assassination three years later. His mother took office soon after her husband's killing and ruled for a total of 12 years.

His mother chose his sister, Chandrika Kumaratunga, as her political heir instead of him and she ruled the country from 1994 to 2005.

Sunethra, the eldest Bandaranaike sibling, did not take part in politics.

Bandaranaike was born on Feb. 15, 1949.

Source: IHT

Groups of LTTE sympathisers exist in TN, Kerala

Small groups of people who sympathise with Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers exist in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said on Sunday.

"We have reports about pockets in both these states helping the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The state intelligence agencies and the Intelligence Bureau are working on this information," Narayanan told reporters here.

Early this month, the Tamil Nadu police seized a boat from a boatyard in Kerala that was being manufactured for the LTTE


Ahmadinejad to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan official sources declared the Iranian president is to trip to the country in April.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also slated to scrutinize projects which are to be carried out by the two countries.

Iran has agreed to fund projects worth about 1.9 billion dollars in Sri Lanka following the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa tour to Tehran in November 2007, Sri Lankan official sources said.