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Army trying to avoid civilian casualties in operations: Lanka

Jan 23 (PTI) President Mahinda Rajapakse has said he was convinced that people in rebel-held areas of northern Sri Lanka are not supporting the LTTE and asserted that the the army was taking all precautions to avoid civilian casualties during operations against the rebels. "A letter that was recovered from the pocket of a slain little female militant by the army has touched me. The letter speaks about the girl's helplessness in (not) attending the Thaipongal festival as she has been told to fight in the north," more..

Pakistan steps into India's shoes in Sri Lanka

Jan 23 (PTI) With India reluctant to enhance defence cooperation with it, Sri Lanka has shown signs of turning towards Pakistan with a high-level defence delegation from Islamabad holding talks with senior officials here. The Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) chief held detailed discussions with Sri Lanka's security officials including Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse, brother of Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse. Lt Gen Hussein stressed on enhancing defence ties with Sri Lanka during his meeting with Gotabaya Rajapakse more..

Sri Lanka jets target Tiger leader

Jan 23 (AFP) Sri Lankan war planes bombed a suspected base of the top Tamil Tiger leader in the island's north Wednesday as ground attacks killed at least two rebels, the defence ministry said Wednesday. Aircraft hit a base of the LTTE at Iranamadu where the separatists have a clandestine airfield, the ministry said. It gave no details of casualties or damage. Military sources said six aircraft were deployed for the bombing raid based on intelligence reports that Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was receiving medical treatment at a jungle hideout in the region. more..

TN requests Centre not to stall Sethusamudram project

Jan 24 (PTI) Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday requested the Centre not to "go back" on the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project by paying heed to the "untenable" arguments raised by some people for "political gains". In his customary address to the state assembly, Governor S S Barnala said the project, a long-pending dream of the people of Tamil Nadu, had been studied since 1860 during the British rule and found feasible by engineering stalwarts. more..

Diamond jubilee -- or a cold stone?

Jan 24 (TS) Ayubowan, vanakkam, assalamu alaikkum and best wishes as we prepare for the diamond jubilee of Sri Lanka’s independence but with the multiple crisis situation looking more like a cold hard stone. As the Eelam war 4 rages into the bloodiest of all battles, the generals, the hawks and the boru part Bonaparte are expressing confidence that the war could be finished within months. more..

Awaiting the outcome of war

Jan 24 (UPI) Events of the past three weeks are an indication of the potential for savagery in the Sri Lankan government's war with the LTTE. The recent massacre of civilians in the remote rural countryside of the south evoked memories of earlier war times. In the 1980s and 90s there were many incidents in which civilians were brutally hacked to death in direct face-to-face encounters. more..

Sri Lankan growers upset over low betel leaf prices

Jan 24 (PTI) Despite the increase in exports, domestic betel leaf prices in Sri Lanka have crashed by over 50 per cent in a week's time. The prices of export quality betel have dipped by Rs 2,000 per 1,000 leaves (Sri Lankan Rs) from Rs 3,000-3,500 to Rs 1,000-1,500 per 1,000 leaves. In a protest to price decline, the Sri Lankan betel leaf-growers boycotted its sale at Kandanegadara and Yakwila weekly trading fairs in North-western Sri Lanka last week. more..

Fullest degree of autonomy for provinces within constitutional framework

Jan 24 (FI) Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has emphasised that “every effort should be made in good faith to provide fullest degree of autonomy for Provinces within the Constitutional framework”. In a statement issued by him , Mr.Samarasinghe has said that while ensuring the unity and territorial integrity of the Country , an accommodative environment must be created to foster plurality and diversity. more..

Tamil Catholics thank second Vatican council for freedom to celebrate harvest festival

Jan 24 (UCAN) Tamil Catholics around the country have celebrated Thai Pongal at churches and homes, with some acknowledging the role of the Second Vatican Council in re-establishing the celebration's cultural importance. The harvest festival, which has ancient roots predating the birth of Christ, heralds a new year for Tamil farmers. The Tamil month Thai begins in mid-January, and the word pongal means "overflowing." more..

Central bank says no excessive money printing

Jan 24 (LBO) Central bank says allegations of excessive money printing are "baseless" despite using central bank credit of 45.2 billion rupees to purchase treasury bills up to September 2008. "The attention of the Central Bank has been drawn to a few mischievous and /or erroneous reports where allegations have been made that the Central Bank has resorted to 'wide scale money printing' to finance the fiscal deficit of the Government," the Central Bank said in a statement. more..

LTTE military spokesman denies the bombing of LTTE leader’s base

Jan 24 (LBO) LTTE refuted the claim by the Sri Lanka Air Force that it had hit a base of the leader of the LTTE Velupillai Pirapaharan on Wednesday morning around 11.15 am. However unconfirmed reports revealed that after the reported bomb attack, shops in Kilinochchi districts were closed down and even satellite phones used by the middle level LTTE leaders were retrieved by the intelligence officers of the separatist Tamil outfit. more..

Defences Against Midget Subs, Frogmen and Amphibious Assaults

Jan 24 (LG) The Sri Lanka Navy has installed underwater surveillance equipment, including sonar and also sea mines to face a possible threat from a midget submarine or an amphibious attack. Sea Mines have been laid in non-fishing areas, specially near Delft Island and underwater surveillance equipment installed at areas with vital Naval assets in the Northeast. more..

EDF, Independents Groups Nominations for Batticaloa

Jan 24 (LG) As of Monday 4:00 p.m. four independent groups and one registered political party, EROS's Eelavar Democratic Front (EDF), have filed nominations for the forthcoming local Government elections to be held in Batticaloa district, sources in Batticaloa said. According to information released by the Batticaloa elections office, EDF and an independent group has submitted their nominations for Koralaipattu (Vazhaichcheanai) and Koralaipattu North (Vaaharai). more..

Indian Role in Sri Lanka

Jan 24 (LG) Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohita Bollagama announced on January 4 that the Cabinet had decided on January 2 to abrogate the ceasefire agreement between the Government and the LTTE, which was signed by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran. Mr Bollagama averred, "The abrogation of the 2002 ceasefire agreement, which was fundamentally flawed, actually created space for a more inclusive peace process, which will guarantee sustainable peace in the country." more..

Foul Weather Dogs Lankan Voyage

Jan 24 (LG) The cancellation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Sri- Lanka on its 60th Independence Day is now set to add to the Congress’ agony in Tamil Nadu. The pro-LTTE parties in the state are claiming credit for “scuttling” the prime ministerial visit. Manmohan Singh was invited as the chief guest for Sri Lanka’s Independence Day celebrations on February 4. more..

Military not the solution

Jan 24 (LG) The savage Tiger attacks against civilian targets in the southern heartland this month mark a new low in the bloody war in Sri Lanka. The abrogation of the six-year-long Cease Fire Agreement appears to be the immediate provocation for the LTTE to switch from military to civilian targets. Year 2007 was not only the most violent, but it also witnessed the ascendancy of nationalism. more..

The importance of being Prabhakaran

Jan 24 (LG) The media blaze created by the news of Prabhakaran, the leader of the LTTE, sustaining minor injury in a Sri Lankan air-strike in Wanni recently has underlined the importance of Prabhakaran to the fate of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Coming after the death of S.P. Tamilchelvan, the LTTE political head, in a similar air-strike in Kilinochchi a few months ago, the news about Prabhakaran has reminded us that no leader is invulnerable in a military conflict. more..

The cost of living is killing us

Jan 24 (LG) The cost of living is virtually killing the middle class to such an extent that saving any money from one’s earnings is an impossibility. In this scenario the National Savings Bank could very well put up shutters as there would be no possibility for people to save anymore. Banks, in general, are offering many benefits and amazing prizes, indirectly begging people to open saving accounts and also preventing those who already have one from making withdrawals. Such is the situation in the country. more..

Proem to An Independent Celebration in Sri Lanka

Jan 24 (LG) We prepare for the diamond jubilee of Sri Lanka’s independence but with the multiple crisis situations looking more like a cold hard stone. As the Eelam war 4 rages into the bloodiest of all battles, the generals, the hawks and the boru part Bonaparte are expressing confidence that the war could be finished within months. A pro government newspaper even gave figures worked out by Army, and according to them there are only about 3,000 LTTE cadres left. more..

Full implementation of 13th Amendment recommended

Jan 24 (Hindu) Full and faithful implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, holding of provincial council elections in the east and establishment of an interim provincial council in the north are the key recommendations made by the All Parties Representative Conference (APRC) in its interim report submitted to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday. more..

Pakistan U-19s outplay Sri Lanka U-19s in opener

Jan 24 (CI) After a solid performance by their batsmen, Pakistan Under-19s turned in a superb bowling display to beat Sri Lanka Under-19s by 83 runs in the first match of the pre-World Cup tri-series in Colombo. After Sri Lanka elected to field, there were some initial jitters for Pakistan as Ahmed Shehzad and Umair Mir fell in quick succession to leave their team at 31 for 2. Umar Amin, who anchored the innings with a sedate 68, more..

Sri Lanka banks helpless against dud cheque writers: regulator

Jan 24 (LBO) One in ten cheques issued in Sri Lanka bounces and account holders are writing dud cheques with impunity despite it being a criminal offense, a top central banker said. Central Bank deputy governor Ranee Jayamaha says nine percent of the 250,000 cheques, especially in the Colombo area sent for clearing are returned each day. more..

Dialog Telekom launches digital TV broadcasts

Jan 24 (LBO) Mobile operator Dialog Telekom's digital broadcasting of terrestrial television via standard broadcast frequencies will be less costly for content providers and increase reception throughout Sri Lanka, company officials said. Dialog's Terrestrial Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB-T) pilot project was launched Wednesday covering areas north of the capital Colombo like the Wattala suburb and Gampaha and south towards Kalutara along the coastal belt. more..

Lankan Women Commits Suicide At Dubai Airport

Jan 24 (LG) A Sri Lankan woman committed suicide at the Dubai International Airport recently by hanging herself. Her young children, who are in shock, are now waiting anxiously for the remains of their mother to reach them. Kala Sangarapillai, 30, who was working as a housemaid in Kuwait and was on her way to Sri Lanka via Dubai to see her family when she allegedly hanged herself in the ladies restroom at the Dubai airport three weeks back. more..

“No permanent solution can be found under a unitary system”

Jan 24 (LG) It may be a surprise to all of you to see me participating in today’s ceremony held to hand over an interim report of the APRC to His Excellency the President by Hon. Tissa Vitharana, I owe an explanation to the People of this country, to the International Community and also to Sri Lankans living abroad, as to why I am giving my support for the implementation of the 13th Amendment in full, as a first step before a final solution is recommended by the APRC. more..

CBK & the SC

Jan 24 (LG) We recollect reading a press report some years ago which stated that the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga had told a UNP delegation led by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that she could prove which Supreme Court judge had taken a bribe in a fundamental rights case. It was also revealed that the Supreme Court had called upon the Editor of the newspaper which had published the report to tender an affidavit as to the authenticity of the story. more..

Defences Against Midget Subs, Frogmen and Amphibious Assaults

Jan 24 (LG) The Sri Lanka Navy has installed underwater surveillance equipment, including sonar and also sea mines to face a possible threat from a midget submarine or an amphibious attack. Sea Mines have been laid in non-fishing areas, specially near Delft Island and underwater surveillance equipment installed at areas with vital Naval assets in the Northeast. These preparations come in the wake of reports of a possible attack by Sea Tigers using frogmen and Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) midget subs. more..

US Agency for International Development Opens New Playground on Negombo Beach

Jan 24 (AT) On a warm January morning, children and adults alike gathered near brightly colored swings and slides at the Negombo Beach Park in the Gampaha District just north of Colombo. The congregation was not waiting in line for rides, but was instead gathering to celebrate the opening of a new playground built through joint funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), more..

SL Democracy Forum Rejects the Interim Report of the APRC

Jan 24 (LeN) Calling for an Interim Arrangement SLDF rejects the APRC's announcement of the 13th amendment to the Constitution as the interim arrangement, at the personal behest of President Rajapakse who has deflected the announcement of the conclusions reached by the APRC over eighteen month long deliberations, which may now never see the light of day. This undemocratic act by the executive presidency is a travesty of all efforts aimed at according justice to the minority communities, more..

Richard Peiris & Co. fires 158 workers

Jan 24 (LD) Richard Peiris and Company Ltd. has reportedly fired 158 employees from its household mats manufacturing plant in Ja-ela after they struck work to demand the reinstatement of a sacked colleague. H.A.K. Chandana, Secretary of the Ceylon Mercantile Union, was removed by the management on 29th October, 2007, after a disposable syringe was found from his locker. He was accused of having used the contraption to spray paint at finished factory products. more..

Proposed northern interim council is temporary – SLFP Gen. Sec.

Jan 24 (LD) The All Party Representative Committee has proposed only an interim advisory council for the North, which will be a temporary measure, SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena told the media today. This interim council will have its representatives appointed to reflect the ethnic character of the province, he said at the Government Information Department. “It will continue to function until the Northern Province is liberated,” Sirisena said. more..

Police raid on ICES Director’s residence suspended

Jan 24 (LD) With the intervention of the Indian High Commission, a police raid on the residence of Dr. Rama Mani, a top official of the Colombo office of International Centre for Ethnic Studies, has been suspended, reports say. Upon receiving about the imminent search this morning (Jan. 24th), the Indian HC has expressed concern and took it up with the IGP and the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

Jan 24 (GDI) Cabinet approved a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Paraguay. Although there is no significant political interaction between the two countries, it was pointed out that Sri Lanka and Paraguay cooperate in a variety of international organizations. Paraguay belongs to the Organization of American States, the ALADI, the Rio Group, INTERPOL and MERCOSUR, the Community of Democracies, the G-77 and is an observer state of the Non-Aligned Movement. more..

Japan to drink more Sri Lankan Tea

Jan 24 (GDI) Minister of Plantation Industries D.M.Jayaratne who was on an official visit to Japan recently held discussions with Sri Lankan tea exporters in Japan on the challenges facing the tea industry. Sri Lankan tea is in great demand in Japan, and the tea drinking habit has not waned, it was found out. During the year ending last November [2007], tea export earnings from Japan alone exceeded Rs.930 million the Minister stated, addressing the gathering. more..

Sri Lankan proposal regarding healthcare for migrant workers approved by WHO

Jan 24 (GDI) A proposal presented by Sri Lanka’s Minister for Healthcare and Nutrition Nimal Siripala de Silva to ensure better health facilities for the migrant workers through a collaboration of the World Health Organization (WHO) and developed countries was unanimously approved by the Executive Committee of the WHO which is in session in Geneva, Switzerland disclosed. Minister De Silva had expressed his views not only in the interest of 1,500,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Middle East alone but more..

Five new political parties registered

Jan 24 (GDI) The Elections Commissioner’s Department announced the registration of five new political parties. Accordingly the total of political parties registered at the Elections Commissioner has increased to 58. These five parties have the right to contest elections to be held in future. Meanwhile, the elections commissioner is due to announce the date of the forthcoming polls for nine local Government bodies in the district of Batticaloa when the accepting of nominations for the polls is concluded on Friday (25). more..

Ban on rice-based animal feed to be gazetted

Jan 24 (GDI) Steps have been taken to ban the production, storage and distribution of rice-based animal feed, Minister of Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Bandula Gunawardena said today (24). A notice in this regard is to be gazetted shortly, he added. According to the minister this has step has been taken in view of the rising price of rice and as an attempt to bring down artificial scarcity. more..

Solution to the crisis is a political one, insist President Rajapaksa

Jan 24 (GDI) At the historic event of receiving the final draft of the All Party Representative Committee proposals President Mahinda Rajapaksa urged all political parties to unite under one umbrella casting aside petty political difference in the interest of resolving the national issue. President Rajapaksa made this appeal when the Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) Prof Tissa Vitharana handed over the draft proposals of the APRC to solve the national question more..

Rice gazetted as an essential item

Jan 24 (GDI) The Government gazetted rice as an 'essential commodity' under the provision of the Consumer Protection Act with effect from today (23). This new provision will give powers to the Minister to take action against traders who hold rice stocks and try to create an artificial scarcity of rice in the market. The action has been taken following information that several traders were holding rice stocks without releasing to the market. more..

Fishermen take exception to Sri Lankan Navy’s action

Jan 24 (Hindu) Notwithstanding the warning issued by the Sri Lankan Navy that an “underwater defence system” is in place between Katchatheevu and Neduntheevu, hundreds of fishermen ventured into the sea from Rameswaram on Wednesday. Thirteen Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, including women and children, reached Arichamunai near Dhanushkodi with the help of clandestine boat operators. more..

'Devolution only way to peace'

Jan 24 (SAMN) Minister of Community Development and Social Inequity Eradication P Chandrasekaran has welcomed the Indian and British joint statement issued on January 21, urging Sri Lanka to put forward a credible devolution package as a key contribution to finding a political settlement acceptable to all communities within the framework of a United Sri Lanka. more..

Parents cry foul over Grade 1 admissions

Jan 24 (SAMN) A group of parents who allegedly suffered injustice when attempting to admit their children to grade one at a leading school in Colombo began a protest opposite the school yesterday and then proceeded to the Bribery and Corruption Commission office to hand over a petition. “The protest was aimed to shed light on the corruption that takes place in grade one admissions,” the parents union chairman M.H.M. Fawaz said adding more..

Revise succession in temples: Prelate

Jan 24 (SAMN) The Chief Prelate of the Rangiri Dambulu Chapter Ven. Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thera said the traditional student–teacher order of succession in temples resulted in the giving up of robes by many educated young monks, and that the Mahanayakes should focus their attention on this situation. The Ven. Thera pointed out that the present system of appointing the chief incumbents of temples was introduced by the British rulers who did not have an iota of knowledge on the preaching of the Buddha. more..

School non-attendance diminshing

Jan 24 (SAMN) A recent survey by the Non-Formal Education Unit of the Education Ministry revealed that the rate of children not attending school in the Monaragala district showed a sharp decrease in 2007 when compared to the previous year. Assistant Director of the Non-Formal Education Unit Deshanthi Konara said statistically 198 children of the compulsory school going age of 5 to 17 years were identified in 2006 and it reduced to 127 in 2007. more..

Police assistance sought to nab treasure hunters

Jan 24 (DN) The Archaeological authorities at Anuradhapura have sought the assistance of the police to nab persons allegedly belonging to an organised group engaged in the destruction of monuments of archaeological and historical value in the sacred city of Anuradhapura and suburbs. The Assistant Commissioner of Archaeology Anuradhapura said a number of historical monuments at Asokaramaya in the sacred city have been damaged by these treasure hunters. more..

Food producers to get better prices through DECs

Jan 24 (DN) The Government will establish four Dedicated Economic Centres (DEC) in Vavuniya, Hettipola, Monaragala and Chilaw this year to ensure reasonable prices for producers by providing marketing facilities for rural farm products. This will also provide an opportunity for consumers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at low prices. This project would also help small scale producers to reduce their transport costs and damage occur in transportation. more..

Salaries Commission a ‘white elephant’

Jan 24 (Island) Railway unionists yesterday called the National Salaries and Cadre Commission ‘a white elephant’ living on public money, without providing any solutions to salary anomalies problems in the Railway Department. "Two years have lapsed since its appointment. During these two years, the Commission had come up with nothing but hair splitting arguments. It failed to bring any solutions to our problems. We called upon the President and pointed out that this was an utter waste of taxpayers’ money," more..

APRC should be GPRC – JVP

Jan 24 (Island) Though everyone calls the committee appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to recommend a political solution to the conflict in the North and East, an All Party Representative Committee, it should be more accurately named the Government Party Representative Committee, as it had only members of the government parties but no representatives from the Opposition, Kurunegala District JVP Member Anura Kumara Dissanayaka told The Island yesterday (22). more..

Temple thieves use Buttala diversion to steal artifacts

Jan 24 (DM) The Moneragala Magistrate court yesterday remanded until January 31 five suspects alleged to have stolen an assortment of items from the Gammana Raja Maha Viharaya, Badulla following terrorist attacks in Buttala and Thanamalwila. The suspects had used the fear psychosis that ripped through the people in the area to commit the theft, police said. At the time of arrest on Monday night, the suspects were consulting a crystal ball. more..

Things will get worse before getting better: HRW

Jan 24 (DM) The situation in Sri Lanka is likely to get worse before it gets better, the New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a note posted in the prestigious Wall Street Journal publication in a US response to an editorial titled ‘Rajapaksa's big bet’ which highlighted the continuing tragedy of Sri Lanka's civil war. Legal & Policy Director of Human Rights Watch James Ross said both the LTTE and government security forces are committing serious abuses, while national justice mechanisms, more..