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Bomb blast in Colombo kills 4, injures 24; military blames Tamil Tiger rebels

Jan 2 (AP) A roadside bomb exploded near a bus carrying wounded soldiers in the heart of Sri Lanka's capital Wednesday, killing four people and wounding 24 others, the military and a hospital official said. The military blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the bomb, which killed one soldier and three civilian bystanders on a busy commercial street in Colombo, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. more..

Mystery of an injury

Jan 3 (FL) THE controversy triggered by what could undoubtedly be the news of 2007 from Sri Lanka, about whether or not LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran sustained injuries in an aerial attack by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in the last week of November, will never be settled. After all, the incident in question is supposed to have taken place in an area under the command of the Tigers and they can never be expected to concede that such an incident is even possible. more..

Aceh – Peace facilitation and Sri Lanka peace talks

Jan 3 (AT) Aceh and Eelam – agitations for separate states were launched - Aceh located in Sumatara, Indonesia and Eelam in Sri Lanka. On 04 December 1976, ASNLF (Acheh / Sumatra National Liberation Front - Gerakan Acheh Merdeka (GAM), also called Free Acheh Movement, unilaterally declared independence. The leaders of the organization fled the country. By being in Sweden they continued with their struggle for a separate state of Aceh. more..

Central bank gives up on low inflation for 2008

Jan 3 (LBO) Central bank has given up on achieving low inflation in 2008 with Governor Nivard Cabraal saying that the bank may allow consumer inflation to go as high as 14 percent in 2008. However, Cabraal said his institution would try to keep consumer inflation at around 10 to 11 percent but - in an unusual move for a central bank - made the target conditional. "At this stage, let us also remind ourselves of the risks that may be encountered by us when we are pursuing our tough targets," more..

Sri Lankan seamen school to take foreign cadets

Jan 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Mercantile Seamen Training Institute (MSTI) in the southern port of Galle plans to open its doors to foreign aspirants in 2008. The institute, a subsidiary of the listed Mercantile Shipping Company, is stepping up its training to meet growing demand for seafarers. Demand for both deck hands and officers is rising rapidly worldwide owing to the boom in shipping, more..

Domestic gems & jewelry trade prospers

Jan 3 (F2F) Sri Lanka’s gem and jewelry industry is more than just thriving. It aimed to procure Rs50 billion in 2007 and this year it is sure to exceed even this target. In the first eleven months alone, gems and jewelry export earned Rs47.02 billion which was a 15 percent increase compared to 2006. Mr Ajith Perera, Acting Deputy Director General of National Gems and Jewellery Authority, stated, “The major factors supporting diamond and jewellery export is the quality of gems and jewellery which has gone up. more..

Preparing for a fight to the finish

Jan 3 (UPI) As the new year begins, Sri Lanka can find examples of the directions open to the country right in its own neighborhood. In Nepal, the government and Maoist rebels have come to an amicable negotiated agreement on the abolishing of the monarchy and establishing a federal state. Maoist leader Prachanda is also reported to have advised the LTTE to give up violence and enter into the democratic process. more..

2007 in review: Sri Lanka

Jan 3 (CI) Sri Lankans will look back on 2007 with mixed feelings. It has been a year in which there has been a great deal of hardship for many. The cost of living has surged ever upwards, and the heightened civil war has brought increased suffering, especially for those in the north and east. Cricket, though, as so often seems the case in Sri Lanka, has brought happier memories, with the national team enjoying a largely successful year. more..

SLFP (M) condemns Maheswaran murder

Jan 3 (LD) The SLFP has strongly condemned the assassination of UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran. In a statement, SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera says the government should take full responsibility for the incident. Following is the full text of the statement: “The SLFP Mahajana Wing condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of UNP parliamentarian Mr. T. Maheswaran. more..

Sri Lanka government ends cease-fire

Jan 3 (AP) The government decided Wednesday to withdraw from an internationally brokered cease-fire that had largely collapsed since the resurgence of fighting in Sri Lanka's civil war two years ago, an official said. The Cabinet unanimously approved the prime minister's proposal to pull out from the 2002 truce, Media Minister Anura Yapa told The Associated Press. The cease-fire, brokered by Norway, had been considered the best chance of ending two decades of civil war between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, more..

'Winning another World Cup is within our reach' - Ranatunga

Jan 3 (CI) Arjuna Ranatunga, recently appointed chairman of Sri Lanka cricket, has said one of his prime concerns is to improve the standard of junior cricket in the country and to prepare a team to win the 2011 World Cup, which will be hosted in Asia. The last time Asia hosted the World Cup was in 1996, and Sri Lanka won it under Ranatunga's captaincy. "If we address the few problems that we have at present and pick the right team and create the right environment, winning another World Cup is within our reach," more..

“Liberated”- A Personal Account Of Batticaloa And Ampara

Jan 3 (GV) The lagoon lay shimmering in the afternoon heat, mesmerized by the sun. Three young boys jostled in the thicket nearby sharing a smoke, then tired, they plunged into the lagoon, rippling the waters, alarming a stork. At that particular moment the enchantment of the Batticaloa lagoon and the serenity engulfed me. The last time I was in Batticaloa and Ampara was three years ago, just after the tsunami. more..

Sri Lanka 'plunging into lawlessness'

Jan 3 (BBC) Sri Lanka is 'plunging into lawlessness' as assassinations, abductions, threats to media and paramilitary activities continue, human rights watchdogs said. Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous countries for media personnel in the world, according to an international media watchdog. Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says 86 journalists were killed worldwide in 2007 in 21 countries. more..

Norway says Sri Lanka monitors likely to leave

Jan 3 (Reuters) Peace mediator Norway said on Wednesday that a Nordic ceasefire monitoring mission would likely withdraw from Sri Lanka after Colombo said it would end a 2002 truce with the rebel Tamil Tigers. Norwegian Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim, who brokered the six-year-old ceasefire, said Norway was willing to carry on as facilitator of Sri Lankan peace talks as long as it enjoyed the confidence of the parties to the conflict. more..

Sri Lanka needs better budgets for low inflation: central bank

Jan 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank governor Nivard Cabraal said better budgets were needed to lower inflation, as heavy government borrowings made it difficult to conduct effective monetary policy. "The conduct of a successful monetary policy, while facing a high budget deficit is a challenging task," he said in a speech outlining the bank's monetary policy roadmap for 2008, more..

Norway expresses regret over Sri Lanka decision to annul truce

Jan 3 (TW) The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to terminate the ceasefire agreement concluded with the LTTE on 22 February 2002. Norway served as facilitator for the negotiations that led to the agreement. If either party wishes to terminate the agreement, it is required to give notice of termination to the Norwegian Government 14 days in advance. “I regret that the Government is taking this serious step,” said Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim. more..

Sri Lankan airline deal in the balance

Jan 3 (FT) The future of what could be one of the most lucrative aviation partnerships in South Asia was up in the air last night with Emirates and the Sri Lanka government locked in talks over a management contract for Sri Lankan Airlines. Executives from Emirates, the biggest Arab carrier, which owns 43.5 per cent of Sri Lankan Airlines, met with officials of the Sri Lankan government, the controlling shareholder with 51 per cent, to seek a renewal of a 10-year contract to operate the national airline. more..

Ah ha! This poster in Kelaniya seems to say it all

Jan 3 (ISL) Who doesn’t know about the Mervyn Silva saga of last week - the sordid story of his assaulting Rupavahini News Director, to be counter-attacked by enraged Rupavahini staff. However, this poster in Kelaniya seems to say it all - nothing has happened, Mervyn Silva is highly connected, and guesses are that his “friend from Ruhuna’’ — as touted in the advertisement here —- will not lift a finger against him. more..

Bluff Minister Bandula vying to beat John Graham, the biggest liar in the world

Jan 3 (ISL) It was only recently, John Graham was awarded the best liar in the world prize in London. It was fortunate for Graham that London judges did not reckon our Bandula Gunawardena, the Minister of consumer affairs (and for high cost of lying!) of Sri Lanka .If they did , Graham would have been beaten hollow by this Duffer of a Minister with his lying prowess. Certainly, Bandula has also a great advantage over Graham, for he is gifted with a god given face that contorts in harmony when he distorts the truth and presents lies to the gullible consumers of Sri Lanka.! more..

Human rights defenders need to unite and commit to protect their fellow defenders

Jan 3 (LG) The year 2008 began in Sri Lanka with horrendous violence in the capital Colombo - the assassination of the opposition United National Party (UNP) MP for Colombo District, T Maheswaran. He faced grave threat to his life following the instruction of the Ministry of Defence to the Inspector General of Police in December 2007 to withdraw personnel from the security units of several parliamentarians, including his security unit. more..

Campaign to stifle apprehension of perpetrators of Mr. T. Maheswaran murder

Jan 3 (LG) Before the assailant revealed his identity and connections, roumours are spread like wildfire with the motive of tarnishing the image of my party and to impress the general public that the EPDP is responsible for the murder of Mr.T.Maheswaran. Perpetrators of this heinous crime rushed to spread roumours to divert the attention of the people from apprehending the culprits. more..

President defends Mervyn at cabinet meeting

Jan 3 (LD) At yesterday’s (Jan. 02nd) cabinet meeting, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had strongly defended Minister Mervyn Silva over his preposterous behaviour at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. Ministers discussed at length the unexpected treatment meted out by SLRC staff to their junior colleague after he stormed the state-run television station’s News Division and assaulted its News Director on the 27th of last month. more..

Police fail to open Pettah wholesale shops closed to honour Maheswaran

Jan 3 (LD) Wholesale traders in Colombo Pettah downed their shutters as a mark of respect to the slain UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran who is to be buried later today (Jan. 03rd). These traders were seen involved in heated exchanges with the police who ordered them to open the shops. The closure would be reported by the media, and it will be an advantage to the LTTE, police said, but this did not convince most traders, our correspondent at the scene reported. more..

Slain MP Maheswaran to be laid to rest

Jan 3 (LD) Thiagaraja Maheswaran, the slain United National Party MP for Colombo, will be laid to rest at the Borella Cemetery this evening (Jan. 03rd). The murder of Maheswaran in an act of organized assassination, sent shockwaves through the entire Tamil community as well as those who value democracy. He was fatally shot by a lone gunman at Sri Ponnambalavaneswarar Kovil in Kotahena, Colombo on January 01st. more..

Rajapaksa regime behind Maheswaran killing – Mangala Samaraweera

Jan 3 (LD) None other than the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime is behind the murder of UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Mahajana Wing and Deputy Leader of the Jathika Sabha Mangala Samaraweera alleges. It is justifiable if there is suspicion that there is an unseen hand of the government in Maheswaran’s murder, Samaraweera told the media in Colombo today (Jan. 02nd). more..

Maheswaran’s life irretrievable: Govt. still can protect others - Ranil

Jan 3 (LD) The lost life of UNP MP T. Maheswaran is irretrievable, but the government still has an opportunity to safeguard the lives of other threatened politicians like Mano Ganeshan who is preparing to leave the country for safety concerns, leader of the Jathika Sabha Ranil Wickremesinghe said. The government and the IGP have a duty to declare as to whether the protection given to Maheswaran was slashed due to a reduction of the level of threat to him, more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions

Jan 3 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Minister Hon. Maithripala Sirisena on the project for introducing new trade crops. Provision of Rs. 3.0 million has been allocated for this project. The main objective of this project is to improve the living standard of Mahaweil farmers through introducing certain commercial agricultural crops in addition to the traditional agriculture in which they are already engaged. more..

Several projects to encourage Coconut cultivators

Jan 3 (GDI) The Coconut Development Board has planned to implement several projects within the year 2008 island wide to uplift the coconut industry in the country. According to the Coconut Development Board the allocated sum for these projects is Rs.653 million. These projects include planting of 3 million coconut seedlings, Coconut under plantation in 12,600 acres and rehabilitation of 10,000 acres of coconut lands. more..

Sri Lanka discusses potential to increase direct investments from China

Jan 3 (GDI) The Sri Lanka and Chinese Investment Forum was held on the 28th of December 2007, with Mr. Chen Jian, Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce as the Chief Guest. The event, which was organized on the fringes of the South Asia Commodity Fair, sought to promote the country as a possible investment destination and encouraged Sri Lanka to facilitate more Chinese investments in finding new avenues of reducing the trade deficit with China. more..

One hundred thousand jak saplings to be planted in school premises

Jan 3 (GDI) Under the Government's "Grow More Food" campaign, the Ministry of Agriculture has joined hands with the Ministry of Education to introduce a new programme to plant one hundred thousand jak saplings in government school premises in the Kurunegala and Puttalam districts of the North Western Province. The Minister of Education, Susil Premajayantha has instructed all heads of schools to give priority for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables in school premises. more..

New indigenous rice outlet in Agricultural Ministry

Jan 3 (GDI) The Agricultural Ministry opened a new indigenous rice outlet at its premises yesterday. The outlet will be buying indigenous rice varieties grown using only carbonic fertilizer. Ministry sources said that around 500 public servants stand to reap benefits from this move. The welfare society of the agriculture ministry had opened the sales outlet for the benefit of the workers and they hope to sell plants and seeds to encourage the agriculture ministry staff to be more active in their home gardens. more..

Govt. does not disassociate itself from a political solution despite CFA annulment

Jan 3 (GDI) Commenting on the decision taken by the Cabinet to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), Minister of Mass Media and Information Anura Priydarshana Yapa stated that it was a non functional agreement. Minister Yapa said that the decision was followed a proposal made by Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake who pointed out that the CFA signed between the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran had been violated umpteenth times by the LTTE. more..

Sack Sri Lankan Minister for Assault on Media Personnel

Jan 3 (IFJ) The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), to call for the prompt dismissal of Sri Lanka’s Labour Minister, Mervyn Silva, following his physical and verbal abuse of officials of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC). According to news reports, Dr Silva assaulted SLRC’s news director, TMG Chandrasekara, at the premises of Sri Lanka’s main public television broadcaster on December 27, 2007. more..

Sri Lanka MP`s Assassin was a painter

Jan 3 (LNP) The suspect, Valentine Colin Jonathan, taken into custody in connection with the assassination of UNP parliamentarian T. Maheswaran at Colombo on Tuesday (1), had been working as a painter at Wattala, police investigations had revealed. He had been residing temporarily at the home of the mother of one of his friends at Wattala for the past 10 months and is Roman Catholic Tamil, police sources said. more..

Outstation students take pride of place

Jan 3 (LNP) Outstation candidates were in the majority among the top five scorers in each stream of the GCE Advanced Level 2007 Examination results released yesterday. Of the top 20, 14 are from outstation while only six are from Colombo`s top schools. Two were first in the Bio Science and Arts streams while Colombo schools secured first places in Maths and Commerce. Thirimadura Mendis of Royal College, Colombo recorded top marks in the Maths stream and the highest Z score 3.3349 in all streams. more..

Arjuna to head Asian Cricket

Jan 3 (SAMN) Immediately as he assumed the mantle as the chief of Sri Lanka Cricket, Arjuna Ranatunga will automatically receive a promotion as well, as he becomes the new president of the Asian Cricket Council. "Ranatunga will now head the Asian Cricket Council (ACC)", the CEO of ACC Ashraf-ul-Haq confirmed from Malaysia Wednesday. "He will be the ACC chief for another six months before the post goes to the Pakistan Cricket Board president", he further added. more..

Moves to Lankan citizenship facilitated

Jan 3 (SAMN) The Department of Registration of Persons of Indian Origin has finalized the printing of the relevant declaration forms to be completed by persons who are entitled to acquire Sri Lankan citizenship under the recently enacted Grant of Citizenship to Persons of Indian Origin Act. No. 35 of 2003. These declaration forms will be available in all three languages at the office of the Department of Registration of Persons of Indian Origin, 3rd Floor, Unity Plaza Building, Bambalapitiya. more..

Leaders discuss security of Opp MPs

Jan 3 (SAMN) In the aftermath of the killing of UNP Parliamentarian T. Maheswaran, the party leaders yesterday raised the issue of serious security lapse created by the government decision to prune the security of several opposition members. Addressing the Party Leaders’ meeting, Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera Wednesday called on the IGP to intervene immediately and address the security grievances of the members and emphasized on the need for the Speaker who is out of the island, to intervene in the matter immediately. more..

ACHC calls for halt in military action

Jan 3 (SAMN) All Ceylon Hindu Congress Wednesday made an impassioned plea for immediate cessation of all military action and acts of violence to bring an end to the suffering of the people in the North and East, who are mainly Hindus. The Congress also called for full implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the re-opening of the A9 and A15 routes. A media release issued by the Congress Wednesday said. more..

Social Welfare Ministry launches phone counselling service

Jan 3 (DN) The Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry will commence a 24 hour free telephone counselling service countrywide in all three languages from today under the direction of Social Services and Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda, a Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry spokesman said. He said the service will be launched under the guidance of Social Services and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lionel Premasiri. more..

President commends commitment of Finance Ministry staff

Jan 3 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday urged the fullest cooperation of the Finance Ministry staff to eradicate and wipe out terrorism totally and strengthen national security of the country. At a simple ceremony to usher in the New Year at the Finance Ministry yesterday, President Rajapaksa pointed out to the Finance Ministry staff that the Government succeeded in achieving several economic goals within the past two years, more..

Unions reject JHU request to give up agitations

Jan 3 (Island) The Jathika Hela Urumaya yesterday requested all trade unions and undergrad organizations to shelve their agitations, strikes and campaigns for rights for one year in support of ongoing war effort. But this was rejected by the unions. "The need of the hour is to wipe out terrorism from this land. The troops have proven that it could be done and the Vanni is surrounded. more..

Reduce consumption till power plants are built – Seneviratne

Jan 3 (Island) Four major electricity generation plants are to be built and commissioned in 2008. These will add 2,590 Mw to the national grid, Minister of Power and Energy W. D. J. Seneviratne told The Island yesterday. A medium scale power generation plant, costing around US $ 500 million, to generate 90 Mw, would be constructed at Uma-oya under an Iranian aid package, while a coal-power plant of 1,000 Mw capacity would be built, at a cost of US $ 500 million, under a loan facility extended by the Indian government. more..

Anura finds fault with IGP

Jan 3 (DM) Former Minister Anura Bandaranaike yesterday found fault with IGP Victor Perera for failing to meet his request for additional security and charged that UNP MP T. Maheswaran was also assassinated due to lack of security. “The fact that you have ignored my lettar shows that you do not care a damn whether MPs live or die. That is one hell of attitude for any IGP, however moronic he may be, to adopt,” Mr. Bandaranaike, who crossed over to the Opposition last November said in a letter to the IGP. more..

High flying A/L students speak about their success

Jan 3 (DM) The results of the most-competitive examination in a student’s life, meant for the selection of students to the university system were released on January 1. The dawn of the New Year marked the highlight for four students each emerging first in their respective subject streams. Of these four, Thirmiadura Charith Yasendra Mendis of Royal College, Colombo scored the highest Z-score mark in the Maths Stream beating all-comers in the tough exam. more..

Sri Lanka opposition says truce was dead letter

Jan 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka's main opposition, whose leader signed a truce with the Tamil Tigers in 2002, says a government decision to abrogate the deal is not a problem for the party. "The decision is not a problem for us," United National Party General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said. "It was drafted during different circumstances. The agreement was a dead letter anyway (miyagiya liyawillak)" more..

Sri Lanka on alert as government scraps ceasefire agreement

Jan 3 (PTI) Sri Lankan security forces were put on a nationwide alert on Thursday, hours after the government decided to scrap its ceasefire agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that was signed in 2002. "The Army, Navy and Air force have been put on the alert in the country after the decision to abrogate the ceasefire agreement though we have been on the vigil as the Tigers have stepped up attacks", military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told PTI. more..

Sri Lanka war seen escalating

Jan 3 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels will likely escalate into the bloodiest period of fighting the island has seen after the government scrapped a tattered truce, experts said on Thursday. Sri Lanka plunged back into war after four years of relative peace almost as soon as President Mahinda Rajapaksa took power in late 2005. But both he and the Tigers had held off scrapping a Norwegian-brokered truce to avoid appearing the villain. more..

Sri Lanka on red alert as ceasefire ends

Jan 3 (AFP) Police and security forces went on alert across Sri Lanka on Thursday after the government announced it was pulling out of a tattered ceasefire with Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said. The already tight security in the capital Colombo was further strengthened one day after suspected LTTE rebels set off a roadside bomb targeting an army bus that killed five and wounded 28. "We have raised an alert, especially in Colombo -- we have deployed more men," more..

Spiking Sri Lanka peace pact will have 'consequences': Norway

Jan 3 (IANS) Sri Lanka's decision to scrap its ceasefire agreement (CFA) with the Tamil Tigers will have 'negative consequences' and only spark more violence, warned a Norwegian minister who helped broker the truce in 2002. Minister of International Development Erik Solheim, who for years was Norway's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka and continues to oversee the now shattered peace process, added that Colombo's move was 'not totally unexpected'. more..