The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Saturday, 21 June 2008

28 Lankan fishermen held: India

Indian Coast Guard on Saturday caught 28 Sri Lankan fishermen for allegedly crossing into Indian waters and handed them over to the police here.

The fishermen were taken into custody by the Coastguard personnel of the vessel "Sagar" when they were fishing at 65 nautical miles from Kanyakumari in the exclusive economic zone of India around midnight last night, police said.

The Indian Coast Guard DIG Raghuvanshi ordered that the fishermen, who were fishing in six boats, be taken into custody, they said.

Police have arrested them, the sources said.

The boats were also handed over to police.

Source: Hindu

Air attack, 8 LTTE killed

Sri Lanka's military attacked Tamil Tiger rebel positions along the civil war's northern front lines by land and air Saturday, killing at least four guerrillas, the military said. Four other rebels were killed in clashes a day earlier, it said.

Air force helicopter gunships attacked a rebel gathering point in northern Mannar district to assist army troops fighting the rebels in the area, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.

Nanayakkara did not give details about damage or casualties, but said the pilots hit their target.

Heavy fighting has been reported in Mannar in recent weeks.

In other fighting Saturday, army troops fired rocket-propelled grenades at a rebel bunker in northern Vavuniya district, killing four rebels, the military said in a statement.

Four other guerrillas were killed Friday in separate clashes in Welioya and Vavuniya districts, the military said. Nine government soldiers were wounded in the battles, it said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because journalists are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place. Each side commonly exaggerates its enemy's casualties while playing down its own.

Fighting has escalated along the war's northern front lines since the government withdrew from a long-ignored cease-fire in January.

The government has pledged to capture the rebels' de facto state in the north and crush them by the end of the year.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for minority Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by majority Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed.

Source: iht

India against military solution to Tamil ethnic problem

Capping a closely-guarded visit by a high powered Indian delegation that met Sri Lankan Presiden Mahinda Rajapaksa, India today said it was not in favour of a military solution to the Tamil ethnic problem.

"India hopes that Sri Lanka can find a peaceful solution to the (ethnic) conflict within the framework of a united Sri Lanka that is acceptable to all the communities. We hope there is no military solution to the conflict," a senior Indian official said at the end of the two-day visit here of the delegation led by National Security Adviser M K Narayanan.

The team, which also included Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, met Rajapaksa and held detailed discussions for about an hour.

None of the visiting Indian officials met the press and a brief statement was read out to the Indian journalists.

There was intense speculation over the purpose of the visit especially with significance being attached to the presence of the Defence Secretary in the delegation.

The two sides are understood to have discussed security arrangements for the upcoming SAARC summit among other issues.

The meeting between Rajapaksa and the top Indian officials took place at the residence of the Sri Lankan President before the Indian team returned home.

According to sources, the Indian delegation yesterday met the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Senior Adviser to the President Basil Rajapaksa and some Tamil leaders among others.

The visit of the Indian officials comes two days after Sri Lanka indicated its willingness to hold talks with the LTTE following a two-year gap, saying the outfit does represent a "fair amount" of Tamils

Source: ptinews

Sri Lanka threatens to nationalise Indian Oil

Sri Lanka has threatened to nationalise the local unit of Indian oil unless it reduces the retail price of diesel, local officials said on Friday.

Petroleum Minister AHM Fowzie said the government will take over the 160 fuel retail depots operated by Lanka IOC, the local subsidiary of India’s state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), unless it makes the reductions. Diesel is commonly used by public transport. “Steps could be taken to re-vest the filling stations given to the IOC,” the minister was quoted as saying in the state-run Daily News.

Sri Lanka sold a third of its petroleum distribution network to the IOC in 2003 as part of a move to end the monopoly on retail sales. While the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) sells diesel at Rs110 (1.02 dollars) a litre, the IOC sells it at Rs130. The CPC diesel is subsidised by the state. The government argues more motorists are buying the subsidised diesel and as a result, increasing losses are incurred by the state.

Lanka IOC said they were not able to absorb losses by selling diesel at the same price as CPC. “The minister wrote to us, asking to reduce our diesel prices to the same (level) as CPC or face sanctions,” Lanka IOC MD said.

Source: thenews

Indian delegation led by NSA in Sri Lanka

A delegation of top Indian government officials including the National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Narayanan flew to Colombo in an apparently unscheduled visit on Friday, triggering speculation about the possible reasons behind it.

Accompanying Narayanan were Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh.While the High Commission of India said the visit was in connection with the upcoming SAARC summit beginning end-July, Sri Lankan officials said the trio was here to continue dialogue on issues of mutual interest. Neither Indian diplomats nor Lankan officials were ready to comment on the visit of the three most powerful bureaucrats in India.

But it was confirmed that they would be meeting President Mahinda Rajapakse on Saturday morning. It was also learnt that Narayanan, Menon and Singh met their counterparts in the Sri Lankan government on Friday evening.

The three, along with at least two other middle-level officials, arrived on a special flight from New Delhi around 11.30 a.m. An Indian High Commission official said: “They would carry out a detailed assessment of the agenda to be taken up during the SAARC summit. They will also discuss Indo-Sri Lankan relations. The visit has been undertaken because India attaches a lot of importance to Sri Lanka.”

Source: hindustantimes