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Sri Lankan gov't troops gain control of key eastern highway after 15 years

Apr 12 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's military said Wednesday that government troops had gained total control of a key highway in the trouble torn Eastern Province for the first time in 15 years. Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe, the military spokesman said that Chenkaladi-Badulla A5 highway in the eastern Batticaloa district was totally taken under government control on Wednesday. more..

Sri Lanka chases tea lovers, golfers to rebuild tourist image

Apr 12 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s tourism promoters are trying to focus on niche markets, luring golfers and tea drinkers to visit the island after its image as a tourist destination was marred by renewed guerrilla violence. The tourism chief, Renton De Alwis, believes that focusing on repeat visitors who are aware of the island’s troubles, and at the same time admire its charms, might yield better results. more..

Sri Lankan highway project eyed by Malaysia's MTD

Apr 12 (LBO) MTD Construction Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian construction firm that bought a Sri Lankan listed company last week, is eyeing a big highway construction project planned in the island, an official said. The company is already in "advanced talks" with the government on building the Kandy-Colombo highway, said Asanga Seneviratne, from Asia Capital, the investment house which did last week's takeover deal, told LBO. more..

LTTE mortar barrage leaves New Year shoppers stranded

Apr 12 (PISL) The LTTE kept up a barrage of mortar fire on the Omanthai Army Checkpoint for the third day in succession yesterday preventing the movement of civilians and leaving a large number who had gone to purchase goods for the coming Sinhala/Hindu New year stranded. Army had requested the International Red Cross to intervene on behalf of the civilians but it was not known what the response of the ICRC was at the time this edition went to press. more..

So corrupt, there is no chance of turning the tide

Apr 12 (ISL) The statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission has quite appropriately focused on the current nightmare in Sri Lanka; even the Rajapakse Government has opted for whatever the governments before have done but unfortunately with even greater intensity. The country is in a state of total collpase and there seems no hope for it anymore. more..

Two worthy winners press their claims

Apr 12 (CI) If there had been a pre-tournament poll of matches to whet the appetite, it's a safe bet that New Zealand against Sri Lanka - two nations overshadowed to the point of parody by brasher neighbours - would not have set many pulses racing. Suddenly, however, their clash in Grenada on Thursday is being viewed in a very different light. It's not inconceivable that this match could be a dress rehearsal for the semi-finals or even beyond. more..

Plenty to prove for Fleming and Bond

Apr 12 (CI) A win for New Zealand will assure them of a place in the semi-finals, while Sri Lanka - with two points fewer in the kitty but a game against Ireland coming up later - will be almost through as well if they put it across New Zealand in a crucial Super Eights encounter in Grenada. Recent form gives New Zealand the edge: not only have they not lost a single match so far in this World Cup, they also have a 7-5 advantage in their last 13 matches against Sri Lanka. more..

Women’s Caucus presents joint recommendations

Apr 12 (GDI) The parliamentary Women’s Caucus with the collective effort to upgrade the female contribution in the country’s economical and political upliftment has presented joint recommendations to the Select Committee on Electoral Reforms. This act which is considered as a rare act of national unity, all the female Members of Parliament has collectively formulated and presented this set of recommendations. more..

Government to bring Electoral reforms and 17th Amendment bill in May

Apr 12 (GDI) Government said that the Bills to further amend the 17th Amendment and introduce electoral reforms Bill, will be presented in Parliament in May this year. According to Constitutional Affairs Minister D. E. W. Gunasekera the proposals would be presented to the Cabinet as well. He stated this at a news conference held yesterday in Colombo. more..

Schools in Vakarai functioning well

Apr 12 (GDI) Government has been able to successfully reopen all the schools in Vakarai area, which has been able to inject a new light to the lives of children, who were subject to LTTE hindrances for a long period. According to the Minister of Education, Susil Premajayantha said many educational development programmes are in progress particularly in liberated areas such as Sampur, Vakarai and Ichchalampattu. more..

Army gains full control of A-5 after 14 years

Apr 12 (GDI) The security forces have gained full control of the 41 km A-5 Badulla - Maha Oya – Chenkaladdy road following a major military and humanitarian victory yesterday. "Hereafter this vital A-5 road will be completely free of terrorist threats enabling civilians to move about freely for their day to-day activities as was the practice before the LTTE infiltrated those areas," Brig. Samarasinghe said. more..

Sri Lankans in UK to Protest against Amnesty International's dirty tricks

Apr 12 (GDI) Sri Lankans living in Britain will gather tomorrow for a protest demonstration against the Amnesty International (AI) in response to their unaccepted campaign on Sri Lanka at the ICC Cricket World Cup. The demonstration is will take place outside Amnesty International Secretariat at Easton Street, London. more..

Early resettlement of IDPs in the East

Apr 12 (GDI) As the as the Security Forces succeeded in taking control over the Maha Oya - Chenkaladi road after 14 years, it will speed up the process of resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the east. The troops engaged in a humanitarian mission in the south and west of Batticaloa yesterday completed their month-long mission taking full control of the A-5 Chenkaladi-Maha Oya road. more..

Sri Lanka to totally eliminate drug abuse by 2010

Apr 12 (GDI) Government determined to effectively deal with the problem of drug abuse and, in the light of current development will be working towards the total elimination of the drug abuse from the Sri Lankan society by 2010. This goal will be pursued relentlessly by all drug law enforcement agencies; the government agencies directly involved in drug demand reduction including provincial and local administrations; more..

Money problems for new ministries

Apr 12 (LNP) Many cabinet, non-cabinet and deputy ministers holding newly created portfolios are facing hardships as they have to operate without proper offices and other facilities. No funds have been allocated for their operations. As those portfolios were created after the budget 2007, funds have to be allocated to them through supplementary estimates, which are delayed due to the failure of the Treasury to finalize the details of estimates, more..

Egypt - Sri Lanka talks on petroleum

Apr 12 (LNP) The Egyptian Minister for Petroleum Engineer Amin Sameh Samir Fahmy has during a meeting with Sri Lanka`s Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development A. H. M. Fowzie, agreed to continued discussions on future cooperation in the field of enhancing Sri Lanka`s oil refining capacity from 50,000 to 100,000 barrels per day. more..

Oasis in the desert

Apr 12 (LNP) The news about the completion of the report on electoral reforms is indeed an oasis in an arid desert of disconcerting reports that the people of this country are treated to regularly. According to the news report carried in Tuesday`s edition of this newspaper, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms Dinesh Gunawardena has said that the PSC has finalized its recommendations and that the report will be ready after their April 24 meeting. more..

Rein in these Mee Harakas!

Apr 12 (LNP) Politicians and their goons may be divided on anything but the plunder of the public wealth. They may kill one another in the run up to an election and go all out to topple governments but on the question of their privileges, perks and corrupt activities, their cooperation has never been lacking. What is going on at Maligawatte, Colombo is a case in point. more..

Journos irked over minister's statement

Apr 12 (SAMN) Journalist associations vehemently rejected of Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva's statement and subsequent action concerning the country's journalists. He first told a public meeting on April 6 that journalists were behaving like rabid dogs and that they should be administered anti rabies vaccine. Subsequently the Minister has suggested a special identity card issued to journalists to obtain preferential treatment at Government hospitals. more..

Govt can deport envoys for interference

Apr 12 (SAMN) Interference by foreign diplomats in the local affairs of a sovereign country can make them liable for deportation and persona non grata status, Senior Advisor to the President and former Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando said. The Government is concerned over the unnecessary interference in local affairs by a number of Western diplomats, particularly European diplomats, Fernando said. more..

UNP MP Johnston under threat

Apr 12 (SAMN) Amidst the growing incidents of human rights violations, UNP MP Johnston Fernando yesterday complained about anonymous threatening calls he had received. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Mr.Fernando said he lodged a complaint with the Kurunegala police at noon yesterday in this regard. He said he would also send a letter to Speaker W.J.M.Lokubandara requesting the latter to take steps for safeguarding his life. more..

Tourism Act unlikely

Apr 12 (SAMN) The Tourism Act is unlikely to see the light of day even this year which has been clamoured for by the industry in the past. But with moves underway to ensure the industry is getting back on its feet the temporary body also considered as an apex body is currently being established. This would be carried out in a bid to ensure that all stakeholders work together, which has been reiterated not to have taken place previously. more..

JHU seeks Presidential Commission to probe UNP-LTTE pacts

Apr 12 (DN) The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday requested the Government to appoint a special fully fledged Presidential Commission and a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate whether the former UNP Government had another secret pact with the LTTE in addition to the CFA to strengthen the hands of the Tigers. more..

Senior education official nabbed for bribery

Apr 12 (DN) The Permanent Secretary to the Eastern Province Education Ministry was taken into custody by officers of the Bribery Commission in Trincomalee yesterday as he was accepting a Rs.50,000 bribe from a volunteer teacher to recruit him to the permanent cadre. Director Investigations of the Commission to Investigate Bribery or Corruption, more..

Induruwa horror: Only 5 bodies identified

Apr 12 (DM) The bodies of five persons who died in the horrible road accident at Induruwa on Tuesday morning were identified by relatives. The body of the container driver T. H. J. A. Lincoln of Homagama was among them. The other bodies identified were those of Anusha Padma Kumari (32) of Yakkalamulla, Devamuni Premalatha (33) of Ahungalla, Tharanga Lasanthi Wanigasekera (35) and T.M. Padmalatha of Wanduramba. more..

UNHCR praises CBK leadership skills following tsunami

Apr 12 (DM) A UNHCR Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES) report which evaluates UNHCR’s response to the tsunami emergency in Indonesia and Sri Lanka from December 2004 to November 2006 has praised former President Chandrika Kumaratunga for her leadership skills in tackling the crisis. The report referred to the crucial role played by her special representative Tilak Ranaviraja, in leading and coordinating the shelter recovery and reconstruction efforts. more..

Dear Ones of “Disappeared” in depths of Despair

Apr 12 (TW) A Tamil multi - millionaire businessman accused of attempting to de - fraud Customs goes “missing” in Colombo after he threatens to expose involvement of people in high places in corrupt activity. Ransom is demanded and distraught family members pay more than three crores of rupees to two Tamil political groups for the return of the man who is a diabetic. But the missing person who phoned last from Polonnaruwa district is yet to return despite the huge amount paid. more..

Indian Navy sets its face against joint patrolling

Apr 12 (Hindu) The Indian Navy has virtually ruled out the possibility of conducting any joint patrolling with the Sri Lankan Navy, saying it could have unpleasant consequence on the Indian side. While maintaining that any decision on joint patrolling had to be taken at a higher level, Commodore Phillip Van Haltren, the naval officer in-charge, Tamil Nadu, said here on Wednesday that joint patrolling could have a lot of consequences. more..

Indian fishermen may have invited firing from Lanka

Apr 12 (IE) It is not Katchateevu island, located 12 nautical miles from Rameswaram, that has been drawing Indian fishermen in droves, but high-security zones like Kankesanturai and Point Pedro in Northern Sri Lanka, where fishing is banned, besides Mannar and Talaimannar, in Jaffna's northern tip. This provoked the Lankan Navy to open fire on them, Indian Naval officials disclosed today. more..

Sri Lanka troops take key highway from Tigers

Apr 12 (AFP) Sri Lankan forces have captured a strategic highway in the island's restive eastern province which was under Tamil Tiger control for 15 years, the defence ministry said. Troops took control Wednesday of the A-5 road linking the town of Chenkaladi and Badulla in the central part of the island, defence ministry spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said. more..

Lankan minister calls scribes 'mad dogs'

Apr 12 (HT) Journalists' associations have condemned the Sri Lankan Minister for Health, Nimal Sripala de Silva, for describing journalists as mad dogs and recommending that they be given an anti-rabies injection. The Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association, Media Employees' Trade Union Federation, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists' Association said in a joint statement on Wednesday, that the minister had branded journalists as "rabid dogs" because they had been exposing corruption in the state health sector. more..

Sri Lanka government uses special powers to persecute journalists, rights group says

Apr 12 (AP) Sri Lanka's government is abusing anti-terror legislation to target journalists who write on human rights abuses or question the administration's handling of the conflict with separatist rebels, an international watchdog said Thursday. Standard Newspapers Ltd. was forced to close March 29 after the government froze its assets citing links with Tamil Tiger insurgents, Human Rights Watch said. more..

Top Sri Lankan defense official says cease-fire has "no meaning"

Apr 12 (AP) Sri Lanka's cease-fire has "no meaning," the country's top defense official said Thursday, suggesting it was only being left in place to satisfy the international community. "There is no cease-fire agreement. There is no meaning in that," said Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. more..

Sri Lankan nationalists protest highlighting of rights abuses at Cricket World Cup

Apr 12 (AP) Dozens of members of a Sri Lankan nationalist group demonstrated Thursday against Amnesty International's use of the Cricket World Cup to highlight human rights abuses in the country. About 80 protesters from the National Patriotic Front, including some Buddhist monks, shouted slogans against the London-based group in front of Colombo's main railroad station and urged it to be fair toward the cricket-loving country. more..

Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels using satellite illegally: Intelsat

Apr 12 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka have been illegally using a satellite of US giant Intelsat to beam their radio and television broadcasts overseas, the company said Wednesday. "We have been actively pursuing avenues to terminate the illegal usage of our satellite," Nick Mitsis, the spokesman for Intelsat, the world's largest provider of fixed satellite services, told AFP. more..

Sri Lanka tense as govt makes 'final push' against Tigers

Apr 12 (AFP) Tensions are running high in Sri Lanka's east as government troops fight what they insist is the "climax" of a battle to clear vast jungle areas of Tamil Tiger rebels. Still trying to recover from the 2004 Asian tsunami, the eastern coastal town of Batticaloa and surrounding areas have become a stalking ground for shadowy death squads and private armies engaged in daily murders, kidnappings and extortion, local officials and aid workers say. more..

Suspected Tamil Tigers kill 7 ethnic Sinhalese villagers in Sri Lanka, military says

Apr 12 (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels stormed a village in northern Sri Lanka Thursday and fatally shot seven ethnic Sinhalese residents who were preparing to celebrate a local festival, the military said. The massacre took place in Avaranthalawa village in northern Vavuniya district, an official at the national security media center said. more..

Mutilated body found in Jaffna, fears it might that of missing Fr Jim Brown

Apr 13 (AN) As war continues mercilessly in northern Sri Lanka, a severed body is found. It might be that of a Catholic priest that disappeared eight months ago. New clashes between the military and Tamil Tigers rebels in the north have claimed at least 30 lives last night. Government sources say that “at least” 20 rebels died. Rebel sources for their part claim that the army lost ten of its men. more..

Sri Lanka's beauty enchants SAARC car rallyists

Apr 13 (PTI) The splendour that is Sri Lanka presented itself in all its glory as the SAARC Car Rally embarked on the second day of its expedition through the enchanting island on Wednesday. If the previous day belonged to the beautiful sandy beaches of Sri Lanka, the drive through the hill terrain along the tea gardens was another worthwhile experience. more..

LTTE’s free-to-air channels to end "within days" -- Intelsat

Apr 13 (AT) Representatives of Intelsat 12 satellite has told Sri Lanka’s Amabassador Benard Goonatilake that the National Television of Tamil Eelam and the Pulikalin Kural radio broadcast in the bandwidth will be removed "within days". Intelsat issued a press release titled “Intelsat Works With Sri Lankan Authorities to Halt Unauthorized Use of Its Satellite.”after the meeting with Ambassador Goonatilake in Washington. more..

Syria, Sri Lanka withdraw from Fed Cup after terror threat

Apr 13 (AP) Syria and Sri Lanka have withdrawn from the Fed Cup Asia Oceania zone women's tennis tournament, starting in Christchurch on Monday, after a terror threat was phoned to the International Tennis Federation's London headquarters. The threat was made last month and tournament organizers, working with New Zealand and overseas police, said they were confident security measures were in place which would ensure the safety of all participants. more..

‘Sri Lankan Forces Won’t Attack Tiger Heartland’ - Why?

Apr 13 (CC) I had a lengthy conversation with Fr. Henry Miller in Batticaloa (East Sri Lanka) on April 11, about the Time April 5 article [1] in which he is quoted as saying that ‘Prabaharan [The Tamil Tigers’ leader] needs the violence – or he risks irrelevancy’. Time article further quoted: “You will not change his [Prabaharan] mind, says Miller. You can only stop his mind” more..

Human rights is the issue, not cricket

Apr 13 (AI) The distortion in Sri Lanka of Amnesty International's campaign "Play by the Rules" is a ploy to distract attention from the increasingly desperate plight of hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan people. "We are concerned at abuses by all parties to the conflict -- civilians are killed, abducted and forcibly disappeared every day at the hands of government forces, Tamil Tigers, the Karuna faction and other armed groups," said Purna Sen, Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International. more..

Fishermen venture into Lankan waters: Indian Navy

Apr 13 (NDTV) The Indian Navy, which patrols the international boundary line between India and Sri Lanka, has reacted to the recent attacks by Sri Lanka's navy on Indian fishermen. The Indian Navy has accused Tamil Nadu fishermen of trespassing into Lankan waters. After the alleged killing of five Indan fishermen by the Lankan navy, IMS Baratang has been patrolling the ninety nautical mile long international boundary line between the two countries. more..

Australian support for rural Sri Lankan communities

Apr 13 (AT) The Acting Australian High Commissioner, Dr Matthew Hyndes, presented funds worth over Rs 4 million to five local organizations under the High Commission’s Direct Aid program (DAP) in a ceremony on 11 April. Speaking at the occasion Dr Hyndes emphasized that “the Direct Aid Program aims to support local organizations to carry out projects that produce immediate benefits to communities in all parts of Sri Lanka”. more..

Sri Lanka stroll to six-wicket win

Apr 13 (CI) Sri Lanka have a template for winning one-day matches, and when it comes off, there's little the opposition can do. Chaminda Vaas makes the early breakthroughs, Muttiah Muralitharan bamboozles in the middle-overs, part-time spinners race through tight overs, the target is manageable, and then becomes ridiculously so when Sanath Jayasuriya blazes away. New Zealand were the victims of just such a perfect plot, losing quite comfortably by six wickets. more..

Sri Lanka sees rich cement export potential from Jaffna plant

Apr 13 (LBO) Sri Lanka has the potential to ship cement to South Indian markets across the Palk Straits if peace comes and a defunct plant in the northern Jaffna peninsular sitting on a rich limestone deposit is rebuilt, a top cement maker said. Manilal Fernando, chairman of Swiss cement giant Holcim’s Sri Lanka unit, said any future revival of Jaffna's Kankesanturai cement plant depends on peace but offers huge potential economic benefits. more..

The heavyweight bout that wasn't

Apr 13 (CI) This was the heavyweight contest that wasn't. Ahead of their Super Eights showdown in Grenada, Sri Lanka and New Zealand had been billed as two of the most versatile and power-packed sides in the World Cup; by the dying stages of this bout, however, the Kiwis were visibly pulling their punches. With Shane Bond neutered like a telegraphed right hook, and their batting dizzied by the speed and variety of the Sri Lankan assault, more..

Unite, cast away differences & overcome challenges! - JVP

Apr 13 (LT) In a New Year message Mr. Somawansa Amarasinghe, Leader of the JVP wishes that the dawn of the New Year would urge Sri Lankan Nation to unite, casting away all differences and overcome all challenges that confront it. He states “The masses throughout the world, from the Andes in South America to Himalayas in Asia, are craving for a new journey. They have chosen the new path to liberate their lands from the re-colonization that had suppressed them for decades. more..

Hit by Intelstat closure Tamil Tigers plans a new TV satellite channel in France

Apr 13 (AT) After the decision of Intelstat to close down National Television of Tamil Eelam (NTT) "within days" Tamil Tiger agents are planning to launch its second channel on the Hindu New Year day through Globecast which is at present said to be up-linking of the TTN television on Hotbird satellite. TTN, a satellite Television operating out of Paris, is owned by the Taiml Tigers, formally known as LTTE, more..