The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Two Indian fishermen killed in Sri Lankan navy firing

At least two Indian fishermen were killed early on Saturday when they came under fire from the Sri Lankan Navy, news reports said.

Fishermen injured in the incident informed relatives ashore by mobile phone of the 'unprovoked' attack in the Palk Straits, the IANS news agency reported.

Indian officials told the PTI news agency that the fishermen may have strayed into Sri Lanka waters, provoking the firing incident.

Instances of Indian fishermen intruding into Sri Lankan waters have often caused problems for the two governments.

India and Sri Lanka are separated by a narrow expanse of water called the Palk Straits.

Fishermen have protested against the frequent 'attacks' and demanded the Indian Coast Guard protect them.

Source: m&c

Sri Lankans unsure of playing in next year's IPL

In a setback to Sri Lankan players, who want to play in next year's Indian Premier League at the expense of a Test series against England, Sri Lanka Cricket on Saturday said the Board has not yet accepted their demand.

"It is not correct to say that the crisis has been resolved and that Sri Lankan players can now go ahead to play in IPL league next year. The matter is still at a negotiating stage by the Interim Committee and the Players' Association," a SLC top source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

He said the SLC was still awaiting a response from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on the proposal to reschedule the dates or any other alternative schedule of the tour.

ECB announced on Wednesday the dates of two-Tests home series against Sri Lanka starting May 7, which coincides with the IPL, scheduled between April 10 and May 29, 2009. This led to some Lankan players meeting President Mahinda Rajapakse to plead either to get the tour postponed or be played after the IPL.

On Friday, reports of SLC giving permission to players to play in the IPL instead of touring England after President Rajapakse's intervention provoked sharp criticism from the ICC with CEO Haroon Lorgat saying it might be the start of a dangerous trend.

"If we don't manage this situation we could be threatening the lifeblood of all member countries. International cricket generates revenue that is essential to our survival," Lorgat had said.

Source: rediff

'SAARC meet would focus on evolving strategy to combat terrorism'

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday said the SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Colombo next month would focus on evolving a combined strategy to combat terrorism.

All SAARC countries would discuss and develop a new combined strategy to combat terrorism at the summit to be held from August 2-3, Rajapakse, who was here to worship at the Lord Venkateswara shrine, told reporters here. He said elaborate security measures would be made for the summit but at the same time some VVIPs would attend the summit with their own security personnel.

Recent reports said Indian security personnel would provide security cover for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Colombo to attend the summit.

Rebutting criticism on allowing security personnel from other countries, Rajapaksa said he has come to Tirupati with his own security men even though heavy security arrangements had been made by the Indian government.

Rajapaksa described India as a great developing country and Sri Lanka maintained relations with it on all fronts.

On the LTTE, Rajapakse said that his government was firmly committed to holding talks with the LTTE provided they give up arms. He charged the Tamil militant group for indulging in terrorist activities killing "tens of thousands of innocent people"

Ever since Rajapksa became President in November 2005, his government has held peace talks with LTTE but during the ceasefire too the LTTE started indulging in killings in the Island putting a question mark on the credibility of the peace talks, Rajapaksa said.

During his two-day stay here, he visited the temple and later left for Bangalore.

Source: Hindu

Sri Lankan jets bomb rebel bunkers

Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed Tamil Tiger bunkers in the embattled north, a day after scattered ground battles killed 17 rebels, the military said.

The military bombers hit rebel positions in Thunukkai village of rebel-held Mullaitivu district, a military statement said. It did not give details of casualties or damage.

Friday's infantry fighting broke out in the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya regions surrounding the rebels' northern stronghold, it said.

Seventeen guerrillas were killed. No soldiers died, but some were wounded, the military said.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment, and it was not possible to verify the military's claims because reporters are barred from the war zone.

Each is side known to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the other and under-report their own.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils, who have been marginalised by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese.

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

The government has stepped up operations around the rebels' de facto state in the north in an effort to deliver on its promise to crush the group by the end of this year.

Source: PA

Sri Lanka tightens use of mobile phones to fight terrorism

Sri Lanka Saturday tightened mobile phone regulations and forced service providers to maintain full details of phone users as part of anti-terrorism moves.

Phone operators were told to check the identity of subscribers before signing them up, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission chief Priyantha Kariyapperuma said.

New and current subscribers also need to keep a certified copy of the letter issued by the operator for inspection by police and military, in order to prove the ownership of the phone connection, he said.

"The rules were brought in on the request of the defence ministry, because mobile phones are misused for terrorist activities. The government is finding it difficult to trace the real owners," he told AFP.

Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, who are fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese community, are known to use several mobile phone connections under different names to evade detection.

Mobile telephones have also been used to remotely detonate bombs.

Kariyapperuma announced the new rules would go into effect "immediately" but said existing users would be given "some reasonable time" to get their paperwork sorted out.

Sri Lanka, which has a population of 20 million people, has 12 million telephone subscribers, of which 10 million are mobile phones, Kariyapperuma said.

Source: AFP

Sri Lanka hike cricket players’ fees

Sri Lanka Cricket has agreed to raise players’ fees and perks as part of a deal to settle a long-running dispute over contracts, officials said yesterday.

SLC officials and player representatives thrashed out a deal over the last two days that ended four months of negotiations, amid growing resentment by the country’s top cricketers.

“The meetings ended amicably and they agreed to our request related to the annual fees, match payments and player welfare,” said Graeme Labrooy, the secretary of the Sri Lanka Cricketers’ Association.

The deal, which will be signed next Wednesday, raises the Test match fee from $3,500 to $5,000, while the fee for one-dayers and Twenty20s will increase from $1,800 to $3,000.

Under the new contracts, there is a freeze on annual retainers for senior team members, but substantial increases for junior players on the national squad and the A team.

“Sri Lanka Cricket was keen to give an increase to junior players and also encourage non-contracted players by making the match fees the same for all,” Labrooy said. Cricketers will be allowed to write articles and have media contracts, which will be regulated by an existing Code of Conduct for all players.

Annual player contracts were due to be finalised by March 31, but the national players have not been paid since the tour of Australia in February.

“Sri Lanka Cricket agreed to back-date the players’ contract payments from March 1, 2008. The contract runs till February 2009,” Labrooy said.

“The players will sign their contracts next week.”

Source: khaleejtimes

Amnesty condemns Buttala attack

London based rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI), has condemned the continuous attacks on civilians in Sri Lanka.
In a statement issued on Friday after the attack on a bus in Buttala, the AI has called upon all parties in to the conflict to abide by the international law.

“These indiscriminate attacks are brutal. The victims are overwhelmingly people who are trying to go about their everyday lives, living in fear of attacks at any time, with the added untold suffering this brings to their relatives”, the AI statement said.

'Brutal' attack

At least four people have been killed and 25 others wounded when gunmen ambushed a crowded passenger bus in Sri Lanka, the army has said.

The attack took place in the southern town of Buttala, 240km (150 miles) south-east of the capital, Colombo.

Unidentified gunmen hiding by the side of the road began firing at the bus as it passed, officials said.

They blamed the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels who are fighting for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka.

'Sped through'

"A group of gunmen hiding by the side of the road near Buttala raked the passing civilian bus with gunfire," news agency Associated Press quoted military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara as saying.

"The bus driver sped through the ambush, only stopping when he reached safety," he said.

"Two females and a 12-year-old child were among the victims killed in this attack and their bodies have been laid at the hospital," the defence ministry said in a statement.

An injured civilian succumbed to injuries at the hospital, taking the number of dead to four, the statement said.

The wounded have been admitted to nearby hospitals, officials said.
In January, 26 people died in a bomb attack on a bus in the same area.

There has been no immediate word from the rebels, who have carried out a number of attacks in the south in recent months.

Buttala is in a Sinhalese-dominated area, far from the rebels' stronghold in the north.

Source: bbc