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Child soldiers: Tigers abducting 2 school girls held

Feb 16 (Island) Two weeks after the LTTE assured UNICEF chief Carol Bellamy that it would not forcibly conscript anyone under 18 years of age, the group continued to abduct children to strengthen its cadre, an authoritative security official said yesterday. more..

Government to relax exchange control

Feb 16 (SO) Radical and far reaching changes to the existing economic structure are on the cards, with the government all set to abolish the Foreign Exchange Control Act and introduce a new Exchange Management Act; establish an Assets Management Company; create a new Revenue Authority and restructure the Public Service through an ordinance called the Public Management Reform. more..

Revolt in the north: LTTE warns TULF

Feb 16 (ST) In their bid to gain greater political supremacy in the Jaffna peninsula, Tiger guerrillas who forced the cancellation of the official opening of the Jaffna Library on Friday have now issued a warning to the TULF - toe their line or face the consequences. more..

SLA soldier killed near Kilali

Feb 16 (TN) Around 2.15pm Saturday near the Forward Defense Line (FDL) of the LTTE in Kilali in Jaffna district, a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldier who trespassed into LTTE controlled area was killed in gunfire, said sources in Jaffna. more..

Sri Lanka holds fast to NAM principles

Feb 16 (TS) Sri Lanka, a founder member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), is out to prove that the movement can be a “force” in the present world scenario. Its High Commissioner to Malaysia, Daya Liyanage, said his country held firm to the fundamental principles of the movement founded in 1955. more..

Police should replace military, LTTE women cadres can wear civilian belts - SLMM

Feb 16 (TN) To prevent future clashes, the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka agreed to allow women LTTE cadres to wear any civilian type of belts when entering and staying in GOSL controlled areas, a press release issued Sunday by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said. more..

Sri Lanka set to call up fast bowling cover

Feb 16 (CI) Sri Lanka will decide within the next few days whether they should fly a standby player as cover up for injured fast bowler Pulasthi Gunaratne. Sri Lanka team manager Ajith Jayasekera said that the team was considering the options of getting down a standby just in case Gunaratne is unable to recover in time for the game against the West Indies on Feb 28 more..

Progress made on FTA with Sri Lanka

Feb 16 (Jang) Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed on the quantum and nature of items to be included in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is expected to be signed during the second week of March. more..

Soldier went missing found dead

Feb 16 (SLA) The Commander of the Army has directed the Security Forces Headquarters in JAFFNA to conduct a full inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of a soldier who went missing from the general area of KILALY about 02 km south of MUHAMALAI since 14 February 2003. more..

Trooper shot dead as Japan, US voice concern for Sri Lanka peace

Feb 16 (AFP) Tamil Tiger guerrillas shot dead a government soldier who moved into an area held by them in northern Sri Lanka where both sides are observing a truce, rebel radio said Sunday. The incident came as Japan and the United States expressed concern about the stability of the island's Norwegian-brokered peace bid. more..

Sri Lanka rebels kill soldier as truce under strain

Feb 16 (Reuters) Tamil Tiger rebels on Saturday shot dead a Sri Lankan army soldier who they said trespassed into their territory in violation of a truce that has been keeping the warring sides at arm's length after 19 years of civil war. more..

President, PM clash over foreign policy

Feb 16 (Deepika) Marking a new chapter in the cohabitation crisis bogging Sri Lankan government, President Chandrika Kumaratunga has accused Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of tilting towards the United States in its foreign policy. more..

Army rejects LTTE claim over killing of soldier

Feb 17 (Island) A simmering dispute over the army’s opposition to belts worn by female Tiger cadres, as part of their uniform in government-held parts of the Jaffna peninsula, took a new turn over the weekend as the army reported the death of a soldier in an incident involving a group of female cadres. more..

Fleming's 134 leaves South Africa facing early exit

Feb 17 (NZH) Captain Stephen Fleming hit a brilliant career-best 134 not out to lift New Zealand to a shock nine-wicket victory over South Africa in their rain-affected World Cup clash on Sunday (South African Time). more..

LTTE women not to wear belts in govt areas

Feb 17 (PTI) Women Tiger fighters have agreed to take off leather belts when entering government-held areas in Sri Lanka to avoid provoking a confrontation with security forces, truce monitors said on Sunday. more..

Sri Lanka joins the world to stop war against Iraq

Feb 17 (IL) The JVP in a letter to the United States Ambassador in Colombo, Ashley Wills yesterday stated, that the Sri Lankan nation, vehemently oppose the preparations by the President of the USA, to launch a military attack on Iraq and demand that this vile attempt, taken against the world opinion, is stopped forthwith. more..

Ranil assures citizenship to Sri Lankans of Indian origin

Feb 17 (UNI) Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today promised to introduce a bill in the parliament to grant citizenship to the remaining 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils of Indian origin. more..

Aid boost to Sri Lanka peace hopes

Feb 17 (CNN) Sri Lanka's fragile peace process has received a much needed boost from both Japan and the United States who have announced significant aid to help with the reconstruction of the country. more..

SAF Games to go ahead despite India boycott

Feb 17 (IE) Pakistan today said it will go ahead with the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games as scheduled despite non-participation by key member India. “Irrespective of any country’s participation in the event, the Games will go ahead as planned,” SAF technical director Col Yahya said more..

Sri Lanka for free trade accord with Bangladesh

Feb 17 (IB) Sri Lanka is interested to strike a free-trade agreement with Bangladesh aiming to bolster economic cooperation between the two South Asian countries. The Commerce Minister of the island-country would visit Bangladesh shortly with the mission of forging a free-trade accord, more..

Cabinet misled: Lanka loses Rs. 200 m. a year

Feb 17 (DM) The Cabinet Sub committee on Economic affairs has allegedly been misled by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority thereby causing a loss of more than Rs. 200 million a year by recommending the exemption of Tokyo Cement from stevedoring charges, harbour tonnage dues, wharfage and port dues as afforded to Prima Ceylon. more..

Whiz Kids

Feb 17 (LBO) The Asian Development Bank on Monday approved a US$ 500,000 technical assistance (TA) grant to draw up a map to computerise Sri Lankan schools. The grant comes from ADB’s Japan Special Fund, financed by the Japanese government. more..

Paper Dreams

Feb 17 (LBO) Half a century ago the Valaichchenai Paper Mill was a symbol of modernity in a mainly rural agricultural society. The Mill brought jobs to the Eastern province and wealth to the farmers who catered to its massive appetite for rice straw. more..

Remains of dead soldier handed over to the Army

Feb 17 (SLA) The dead body of the Army soldier, K.P.A DHARMADASA, who was found shot and killed on 15 February 2003 in the general area of KILALI, was delivered by the ICRC to MUHAMALAI Army camp on 16 February 2003 around 2.00 p.m. in the presence of Police. more..

Hartal over arrested LTTE female cadres

Feb 17 (SLA) A section of schools, banks, public institutes, shops and transport services in the general town areas of MUTTUR about 13 km. south of TRINCOMALEE and TRINCOMALEE town remained closed today (17). more..

LTTE take away ten state buses despite objections

Feb 17 (SLA) An LTTE summoned meeting for bus drivers and conductors, attached to the BATTICALOA Bus depot has been held on 16 February 2003 in the general area of BATTICALOA town where the LTTE has demanded the release of ten state buses for their use. more..

Civilian assaulted for not obeying LTTE

Feb 17 (SLA) The civilian A. K. M. ANSAR of TARAPURAM, MANNAR, who ran away from the general area of MANNAR in fear of LTTE ’s attempts to capture him and take him to the LTTE office, has been brutally assaulted by two LTTE cadres at the entrance to the MANNAR Police station on 16 February 2003. more..

Sri Lanka Jan tourist arrivals up 43.6 pct

Feb 17 (Reuters) Tourist arrivals rose 43.6 percent in January on the year to 40,647 visitors, Sri Lanka's tourist board said on Monday. Total arrivals in 2002 grew 16.7 percent on the year, spurred by a peace bid to end a 19-year ethnic war, but the figure was below the 400,000 mark of 2000. more..

Akashi announces huge Japanese Aid package

Feb 17 (DOI) The Japanese government is granting Rs 26 billion in aid to Sri Lanka that will improve infrastructure mostly in the southern part of the country. Visiting Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi disclosed this plan on Saturday saying that Sri Lanka will be able to pay back the loans after a grace period of ten years at a concessionary interest rate of 2.2 percent. more..

Z-score marking to remain

Feb 17 (DOI) The Parliamentary Select Committee which reviewed the controversial university selection criteria, Z-score on the request of Education Minister Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku has decided to retain the method. more..

Prime Minister vows to solve problems of estate community

Feb 17 (DOI) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday assured estate workers that a part of Rs. 26 billion, which is to be granted by the Japanese Government towards the development of Sri Lanka will be used to resolve the housing and employment problems of estate community. more..

PM calls on Malwatte Mahanayake Thera

Feb 17 (DOI) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday called on the Most Venerable Rambukwelle Sri Vipassi Mahanayake Thera of the Malwatte Chapter at Malwatu Viharaya, Kandy. They discussed religious ceremonies planned for celebrating the completion of 250 years of bringing Upasampada Vinaya Karma (higher ordination) from Thailand. more..

Career guidance training for over 10,000 unemployed graduates

Feb 17 (DOI) The Employment and Labour Ministry will initiate the Government's first Career Guidance Training Programme for the benefit of over 10,000 unemployed graduates. This will enable them to find local and foreign jobs under the Tharuna Aruna project scheduled to commence on May 1. more..

Sri Lanka bus sell-off hits the skids

Feb 17 (BBC) A British-led consortium has missed the deadline to buy a 39% stake in the controversial 1.5bn rupee ($9.6m; $15.5m) privatisation of six state-owned bus companies. The payment was due last Thursday, but managing director of Ibis Transport Consultants Ian Barrett told BBC the deal has not been concluded. more..

Shares end lower; Telecom limits fall

Feb 17 (DJ) Shares ended weaker Monday as lingering concerns about a possible U.S.-led war in Iraq led local investors to sell blue chips, brokers said. Sri Lanka's failure to be reincluded in Morgan Stanley Capital International's global emerging markets index during its latest review also disappointed investors, brokers added. more..

Peace deal will narrow Sri Lanka fiscal gap

Feb 17 (DJ) The Sri Lankan government is confident it will further narrow the budget deficit this year as the ongoing peace bid keeps defense spending in check and attracts increased investment and donor funds, said Finance Minister K.N. Choksy. more..

Jumbo protest in Sri Lanka

Feb 17 (AP) Nearly 100 elephants paraded in the capital on Sunday as their handlers demanded the government allow the capture of more of the beasts from Sri Lanka's jungles to train for religious ceremonies. more..

South African peace duo share experiences

Feb 17 (PSL) President Chandrika Kumaratunga today participated in a Seminar in Colombo on Ethnic Reconciliation & Peace. Two key players during South Africa’s negotiations towards majority rule, Roelof Meyer and Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim addressed the Seminar. more..

Supreme Court orders compensation for police assault victims

Feb 17 (DN) The Supreme Court on Friday, in a Fundamental Rights application, ordered two police officers attached to the Ministerial Security Division to pay Rs. 5,000 each as compensation to a lawyer and her wife, who were attacked by them at Narahenpita Junction last April. more..

Strike grips northeast Sri Lanka after child conscription charge

Feb 17 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels staged a work stoppage in northeastern Sri Lanka Monday to protest the arrest of two women fighters for allegedly conscripting schoolgirls, local officials said. more..

Truce monitors call for trained police

Feb 17 (Reuters) Monitors overseeing a truce between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels called on Monday for the development of a well-trained police force to help avoid confrontations that could jeopardise a peace bid. more..

Norway nearly triples financial aid to Sri Lanka

Feb 17 (AP) Norway said Monday it plans to nearly triple its financial aid to war-ravaged Sri Lanka as part of the European nation's efforts to mediate an end to 19 years of civil war that has cost about 65,000 lives. more..

Muralitharan keeps Canadians guessing

Feb 17 (Reuters) Canada may find themselves on the wrong end of a Muttiah Muralitharan backlash when they take on Sri Lanka in a World Cup Group B match in Paarl on Wednesday. Muralitharan, so often Sri Lanka's match-winner, has been reduced to bit parts in South Africa so far. more..

Sparks likely to fly on no-faith motion on Marapana

Feb 18 (Island) A heated debate is expected in parliament when the no-faith motion on Defence Minister Tilak Marapana is taken up today. Opposition sources said they would raise all matters concerning ceasefire violations by the LTTE including the recent incident in Delft where the LTTE is alleged to have engaged in arms smuggling. more..

Leather limbs hallmark of rebel aid group

Feb 18 (Reuters) Suresh Kumar has the burly build of a fighter but not the walk. Where his leg should be is a contraption of plastic and metal stretching from hip to fake foot. Like countless others, he is a victim of Sri Lanka's 19-year ethnic war and lost his leg in 1997 at the age of 17 when he stepped on a landmine more..

Human Rights activist badly assaulted in prison

Feb 18 (DM) A Human Rights group leader who had been jailed by the Supreme court for contempt has allegedly been badly assaulted in prison and is warded in hospital, it was revealed yesterday. more..

War Drums

Feb 18 (LBO) Local hotel bookings are seeing a definite slow down, as war fears begin to inspire jitters in the more wary European travellers. “Hotel occupancies are currently at a healthy 60 percent. But though there have been no specific cancellations as such due to the war, we have seen a considerable slowing down over previous years in the number of bookings made”, more..

Whatmore warns Sri Lanka not to be complacent

Feb 18 (AP) Coach Dav Whatmore warned Sri Lanka against complacency before the World Cup game against minnow Canada at Boland Park on Wednesday. He also urged Sanath Jayasuriya's side to continue winning. more..

SAARC cultural center in Sri Lanka

Feb 18 (KO) A SAARC cultural center, reflecting the rich traditions of South Asia, will be built in Kandy, the city of the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, in Sri Lanka. The center will cater to all forms of performing and visual arts, and literature, more..

South African fate lies in Sri Lanka's hands

Feb 18 (CI) New Zealand's stunning nine-wicket win over hosts South Africa on Sunday at Johannesburg has left the home nation depending on other countries for their survival in the 2003 cricket World Cup. more..