The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Over 600 soldiers injured and over 90 killed in Sri Lanka clashes

Ninety-three soldiers were killed while 686 were injured last month in the island's war zone in the northern province in the battle against the Tamil Tiger rebels, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake told parliament here Wednesday.

The Prime Minister said that 38 civilians had also been killed in the clashes.

Sri Lanka's military is currently engaging the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in three separate fronts in the north and north eastern regions.

The campaign is part of the government's thrust towards the rebel-held Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu districts, their last holds in the north and east region where they want to set up a separate homeland for the Tamil minority.

The government's military offensive in the island's east ended up with last July's clearing of the entire province from the LTTE rebels. The LTTE called it a tactical withdrawal.

The clashes have escalated despite pleas on both sides from the international community to resume the process of Norway backed direct negotiations.

More than 70,000 people have died in the conflict since the mid1980s.

Source: xinhuanet

Weerawansa refutes charge of indiscipline

The ultra-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) split on Tuesday with party’s vocal propaganda secretary and MP Wimal Weerawansa along with 10 parliamentarians raising a banner of revolt against the leadership and announcing their decision to function as a separate block in Parliament.

The development, though not unexpected since Mr. Weerawansa was suspended on March 21 from party membership on charges of indiscipline, took political observers by surprise as he managed to walk away with nearly one-third of the party MPs. One of them later walked out of the group.

Mr. Weerawansa chose Parliament to announce the decision of his party to place him under suspension and claimed that the central committee has voted in favour of his expulsion immediately after the Eastern elections.

Mr. Weerawansa said such an action would not please the “members of the party but the will and wish of external evil forces aiming at dividing the nation.”

An emotionally charged Mr. Weerawansa said 20 years ago, he scarified opportunities for higher education for the betterment of the party he represented. He refuted the charges of indiscipline and bemoaned that “shooting within was more painful than being shot from outside.”

Besides the Tamil National Party (TNA), the JVP was the only party to have survived so far without a split. The UNP has been affected the most with nearly half of its parliamentarians defecting to take up ministerial assignments.

At a crowded news conference later, Mr. Weerawansa asked the party rank and file to “probe” how such decisions were made by the party leadership. He said a conspiracy would result in only a “collapse and new births.”
Tigers’ appeal

Amid claims by the military on Tuesday that at least 25 LTTE cadres were killed in the north along the Forward Defence Lines, the Tigers appealed to Norway to end the “military assault” on the Madu church in Mannar district.

LTTE’s political head B. Nadesan alleged that Sri Lanka had launched a “large scale military onslaught with the view to occupy Vanni” and said the onslaughts were targeting the church.

The Foreign Ministry refuted the allegation and said the government was committed to safeguarding the sanctity of the shrine.

Source: Hindu

UN appeals for protection of civilians following suicide attack

The United Nations has urged all parties to the conflict in Sri Lanka to do everything they can to protect civilians, after a suicide attack this weekend in the capital, Colombo, claimed the lives of 15 people.

In a statement issued today by the Office of the Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, the UN strongly condemned Sunday’s attack which occurred during a sporting event. Among those killed were Government Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and several well-known athletes.

Sri Lanka has witnessed several attacks in the past few months, following the Government’s decision earlier this year to end the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement that halted a decades-long conflict with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Condemning all violence and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, the UN appealed to all parties to seek a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict.

Source: UN