The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Fresh Clashes Kill 36 In Sri Lanka

At least 35 Tamil Tiger rebels and one security personnel were killed in fresh clashes in the country's restive northern region, defence ministry officials said on Saturday.

Government troops killed 35 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels and wounded an equal number in different places of Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Jaffna districts on Friday, the defense ministry said, adding that one soldier was killed and four wounded.

It was not possible to independently verify the military's claims because media are banned from the northern jungles where much of the fighting takes place.

The rebels have been battling for an independent homeland since 1972 in an ethnic conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Source: AHN

Indian Navy to operate UAVs from air station at Uchipuli

The Indian Navy, which commissioned its first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squadron at Kochi two and half years ago, plans to operate UAVs from the Naval Air Station at Uchipuli near here.

This is expected to enhance the Navy’s surveillance capability along the coast off Tamil Nadu from Tuticorin to Chennai and the sea around southern peninsula. The move is considered an “imperative” step in the context of the prolonged war between Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The programme took shape after the recent visits of Vice Admiral Raman Prem Suthan, Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma, Flag Officer Commanding-In-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, and Commodore Phillip Van Haltren, Naval Officer-in-Charge, Tamil Nadu, to the air station.

At least two Israeli-built UAVs based at the Indian Naval Air Squadron at Kochi might be operated from the Naval Air Station at Uchipuli, to be upgraded as a regular commissioned air station. Its 3,000-foot runway will be expanded to 6,000 ft, keeping in mind future requirements. It has been proposed to acquire 343 acres in the nearby areas to facilitate the expansion.

“We will be in a position to station UAVs and operate them round the clock within a year,” Commander P. Rajkumar, Station Commander, Naval Air Station, Uchipuli, told The Hindu.

The focus of the programme was to operate UAVs at a higher altitude from remote.

Source: Hindu