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SLFP dissidents removed from party organizer posts

Mar 16 (TN) SLFP Thursday night at its emergency central working committee meeting dismissed the two sacked ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi from party organizers' posts. President Mahinda Rajapakse presided the meeting in the capacity of party president, sources said. Alavi Moulana, senior vice president of the party and Governor for the Western Province, told media persons later that the decision was unanimous. more..

Private secretary of Sooriyarachchi arrested

Mar 16 (TN) Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials arrested a private secretary of sacked minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, Lieutenant Commander Rohana Gamage, a navy officer, sources said. Police officials said the he was taken into custody at Anuradhapura, capital of north central province, with several confidential documents Wednesday morning. more..

Sri Lanka forcing displaced people home: rights group

Mar 16 (AFP) Human Rights Watch accused Sri Lanka of forcing people displaced by recent fighting in the country's civil war to return home and called for the government to guarantee their security. "The Sri Lankan government says it will never force civilians to return home after they have been displaced by fighting ... But there is clear and incontrovertible evidence that forced returns have begun," more..

Government assures UNHCR involvement in future IDP return

Mar 16 (UNCHR) UNHCR received renewed assurances today from the Sri Lankan government that we will now be fully engaged in any further moves to return IDPs following disturbing reports yesterday that scores had been forcibly returned by authorities in the country's east. The reports received by UNHCR said that the displaced people had been sent back to their places of origin in Vaharai and Trincomalee despite serious concerns over the security situation there. more..

Tigers say they have repulsed new military drive in Sri Lanka

Mar 16 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels said they repulsed a military advance into territory held by them in northwest Sri Lanka even as fighting raged elsewhere. The rebel LTTE said hundreds of soldiers backed by artillery and rockets mounted an advance into territory held by them in the coastal district of Mannar on Thursday morning. more..

Sri Lankan troops kill suspected suicide bomber

Mar 16 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops Friday shot dead a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bomber in the northern district of Jaffna, the defence ministry said. Army personnel had come across the suspected guerrilla wearing a jacket packed with explosives while manning a road block at Savalkattu junction around Friday afternoon. more..

Fearful homecoming as Sri Lanka resettles refugees

Mar 16 (Reuters) Sri Lanka is packing war refugees like fisherman Kandavel Kandan into buses to resettle them in captured rebel territory in the east of the island, but for many, it's a reluctant homecoming. The refugees say that deadly artillery duels that drove them from their homes could resume, and they could get caught up in sporadic attacks as the Sri Lankan military seeks to drive Tamil Tiger rebels from the east altogether. more..

First review meeting of Pak-Sri Lanka FTA held

Mar 17 (APP) The first meeting of joint committee, of Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement held here on Friday which reviewed the progress of the agreement. The joint committee was established under article 11 of Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. According to a statement issued by Ministry of Commerce here today, the FTA between Pakistan and Sri Lanka came into existence in June 2005. more..

Sri Lanka shares close 4.6% down over the week; Rs 41 bn wiped out of stock values

Mar 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s share market closed flat on Friday, ending a week that saw the benchmark index lose 4.6 percent and 41.4 billion rupees wiped off stock values. The market capitalization fell to 849.8 billion rupees over the week from 891.2 billion rupees last Friday. The market traded positive in morning trade with retail buying, more..

It's a group of policemen who abduct innocent civilians & hand them over to Karuna

Mar 17 (LeN) LeN has been informed through a credible internal source that, the officers of the CID who are investigating the recent spate of abductions and murders, have got a hint about a group from the policemen, who are involved with the activities. It is also being reported that they abduct people, those who have no connections with the LTTE, on their private interest and them over to the Karuna faction. more..

Gotabaya is behind the abductions- Johnston

Mar 17 (LeN) United National Party lands a massive allegation to the government saying that it is President's brother and Secretary of the Defense ministry Gotabaya Rajapakse who is behind the recent spate of abductions. Addressing a media briefing at the opposition leaders office this morning Kurunegala district UNP parliamentarian Johnston Fernando said he was making the statement with responsibility and requested the media to publish it without any fear. more..

4 Sri Lankan soldiers killed in rebel attack, military says

Mar 17 (AP) A Tamil Tiger mortar and artillery attack in northern Sri Lanka left four soldiers dead and 12 wounded on Friday, the military said, while the rebels said they repulsed a military attempt to penetrate their stronghold. The attack took place near Omanthai village in Vavuniya district, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the capital, Colombo, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. more..

Man gets prison for role in 'senseless' murder

Mar 17 (CTV) A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on Friday in connection with the stabbing death of a Toronto teen. Rohan George pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting his role in the kidnapping and killing of 18-year-old Thanu Kumaran. Court heard Kumaran and a friend were shopping at Scarborough Town Centre in January 2005 when they were assaulted by a group of men. more..

Embassy Row

Mar 17 (WT) The foreign minister of Sri Lanka yesterday urged the United States to increase efforts to shut down front groups financing Tamil Tiger rebels, which are included on terrorist blacklists in Washington, Europe and India. Rohitha Bogollagama met with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and is due to hold talks today with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to urge stronger action against groups that support the LTTE. more..

Regional entrepreneurs reiterate commitment to foster peace and reconciliation

Mar 17 (AT) Small and medium entrepreneurs representing the Business for Peace Alliance (BPA) member business chambers throughout Sri Lanka reiterated their commitment to work collectively to foster peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. This commitment was expressed at a workshop on Conflict Transformation organized by the BPA in Kandy on 10 and 11 March 2007. more..

New bridge across Gurugoda Oya

Mar 17 (GDI) Government will be initiating its another massive development project tomorrow by initiating the construction work of the new bridge across the Gurugoda Oya which runs along the Gonagaldeniya- Nittambuwa roadway in the Ruwanwalla electorate in the Kagolle district. The initiation of the construction work will be carried out with the primacy of the Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyraj Fernandopulle, tomorrow. more..

Fierce fighting in Sri Lanka

Mar 17 (Hindu) Fierce fighting broke out between the military and the LTTE along the Forward Defence Lines (FDLs) at Vavuniya and Omanthai in the north on Friday. A Defence Ministry statement said the Tamil Tigers — to ward off pressure in the east — resorted to fire mortars compelling the forces to retaliate. The fighting has hampered the function of the Entry Exit point at Omanthai causing hardship to civilians. more..

President instructs to renovate sacred sites in Anuradhapura for forthcoming Vesak Poya Day

Mar 17 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed to renovate sacred sites in Anuradhapura and to take necessary action to facilitate pilgrims in the sites for the forthcoming Vesak Poya Day. President stated this yesterday attending the progress evaluation meeting of the Ministry of Religious Affaires and Cultural Development. more..

Highest price for paddy harvest

Mar 17 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasised the vital need for taking necessary steps to pay the highest possible price to farmers when their paddy harvest of 2006-2007 Maha season is to be purchased. Further, he states that to find instant solutions to paddy cultivators and rice mill owner’s problems, officials must go right down to grass root level. more..

President instructs to expedite Baticaloa IDP resettlements

Mar 17 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the Batticaloa District Secretariat to expedite the rehabilitation process of the internally displaced persons in the Eastern part of the country and provide them with essential facilities. President Rajapaksa, paying his special attention to the recent news reports published regarding the Batticaloa Internally Displaced People, has given the necessary directives to the Baticaloa District Secretariat for the upliftment of their living condition. more..

Economy showing signs of growth momentum - CB

Mar 17 (GDI) The economy has shown early signs of continuing its high growth momentum experienced in 2006 and 2007 as well with improved performance in all the key sectors the Central Bank said. The improvement in the agricultural sector in 2006 will continue in 2007, benefiting from the lagged impact of favourable weather conditions that prevailed during the last few months. more..

Kankesanturai fuel store made operative

Mar 17 (GDI) Stocking of fuel in the refurbished oil tank at the Kankesanturai cement factory premises for distribution in the Jaffna peninsula began on Thursday with the pumping of 900 tons of fuel transported in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chartered ship Pavith, the Media Centre for National Security said yesterday. more..

Sri Lanka money rates hit 12-year high in record busting week

Mar 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka's overnight money market rates came down from a 12-year high following a cash inflow from a dollar bond issue Friday, while the Central Bank took swift measures to keep markets on a tight path. Sri Lanka's overnight call rates hit a high of 35 percent Thursday, the highest since 1995 when rates went to 102 percent as the monetary authority battled to stave off inflation pressures of a high-deficit pre-election budget in 2004. more..

Sri Lanka and China to widen air links

Mar 17 (LBO) Sri Lanka and China has agreed to expand air links following talks in Beijing this week paying the way for 28 weekly flights, the foreign ministry said. Sri Lankan carriers would be able fly 21 weekly frequencies for passenger services and 7 weekly frequencies for cargo services to five Chinese destinations under a new deal to liberalize the bilateral air services agreement between the two countries. more..

UNP adopts several constitutional amendments

Mar 17 (LT) Several amendments to the party constitution were adopted at the party convention of the UNP which commenced today morning. It has been decided to abolish the posts of deputy leader and assistant leader in the party and hand over all powers to the party leader. Mr. Karu Jayasuriya held the post of deputy leader and after Mr. Gaminie Athukorale's death the post of president of the party was kept vacant. more..

Gibbs hits six sixes in record South Africa win

Mar 17 (Reuters) South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs created World Cup history when he smashed six sixes in an over in a crushing victory over the Netherlands in their Group A match on Friday. On a record-breaking day for the South Africans who steamrollered the outclassed Dutch by 221 runs, Gibbs became the first player to pile up 36 runs in a one-day international over. more..

Cricket: New Zealand's Styris and Oram see off England

Mar 17 (AFP) New Zealand drew first blood against England as they won the teams' World Cup Group C opener by six wickets here Friday. Chasing 210 for victory, New Zealand finished on 210 for four with nine overs to spare after having recovered from 19 for three in five overs. They were still in trouble at 72 for four before an unbeaten stand of 138 between all-rounders Scott Styris (87 not out) and Jacob Oram (63 not out) saw them home. more..

Sri Lanka tells Condoleezza Rice that the government working to obtain a consensus for political reforms

Mar 17 (AT) Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was working hard to obtain a consensus of the majority of Sri Lankans living in the South to develop constitutional reforms that would address the concerns of the minorities. more..

Moving Sri Lanka’s Peace Process Forward; Sri Lanka Government Policy and the role of the International Community

Mar 17 (AT) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said today (16 March 2007), that when the world assesses whatever political settlement that emanates from Sri Lanka in the coming weeks and months, they should bear in mind that it is not only the demands of the LTTE that have to be met, but those of the totality of the Tamil population, among which there is a tremendous yearning for peace, as among the rest of the Sri Lankan polity. more..

Massive exodus from LTTE areas

Mar 17 (PISL) The unprecedented exodus of internally displaced persons in the Batticaloa and Trincomalee Districts has resulted in 155,568 persons fleeing LTTE held areas and entering government administered areas in the districts. They are housed in 75 welfare centres including 12 government schools in the Batticaloa District, Minister for Disaster Relief Amir Ali told The Island yesterday (16). more..

Mangala says Matara voters won`t desert him

Mar 17 (LNP) Ousted Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said that even though the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is under the Rajapakse `troica`, the people of Matara will not forgive the party for having dropped him as the Organizer for the district as they still have faith in him. He said although the SLFP Central Committee met on Thursday night at the Temple Trees and decided to remove him as the organizer for Matara and put Mayor of Matara Upul Nishantha in his place, the people were still with him as he was recognized as their leader. more..

Customs impotent to halt substandard imports

Mar 17 (LNP) Confectionary manufacturers were a group of entrepreneurs to suffer the trauma of Government impotence to deal with substandard imports of confectionery and allied ingredients. Shocking revelations were declared to the press yesterday at a press briefing where leading confectioners grouped themselves to unanimously complain that cheap imports were permitted from dubious sources. more..

Jobless Ayurvedic doctors to stage massive strike

Mar 17 (LNP) Unemployed Ayurvedic doctors, who are currently performing a Satyagraha opposite the Ayurvedic Teaching Hospital in Borella, have decided to launch a massive protest together with health sector workers against the government`s delay to provide them with appointments. They said their Satyagraha would enter its sixth day today but the discussions, with the Indigenous Medicine Minister Tissa Karalliyadda, were unsuccessful. more..

Who will guard the guards?

Mar 17 (LNP) The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) has arrested an underworld gang led by a top cop`s relative notorious for organised crime, according to our main news item yesterday. Murder, armed robberies including the recent heist in Nugegoda, forgery, abductions, extortion, land grabs and a large number of other criminal activities have been blamed on this gang which is said to have had the blessings of the police officer concerned. more..

More than One Third of Tamils in B’Caloa Dist are Displaced

Mar 17 (TW) Batticaloa, the only Tamil majority district in the Eastern province is becoming a region of internally displaced persons. With the recent three - tiered military offensive by the army, special task force and air force, inflicting terrible destruction on civilian areas massive displacement is taking place. According to latest figures supplied by officials at Batticaloa district secretariat more than one - third of B’caloa’s Tamil population of 422, 674 are now displaced. more..

Refugees at Madhu Church Increasingly Under Threat

Mar 17 (TW) The spotlight is currently on Batticaloa as far as the issue of Internally displaced persons (IDP) is concerned. Quite rightly too as the IDP figure in that Eastern district has exceeded 150, 000. While the media remains focussed on B’caloa IDP’s another development concerning displaced persons in the North - Western district of Mannar also requires some attention because of its particular importance. more..

What politicians really want

Mar 17 (TW) In the 1950s, it was S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who ordered the use of water jets to disperse the peaceful Tamil satyagrahis who sat by the side of the former parliament demanding that Tamil language also be given a just place in state administrative affairs. That was just after he introduced the Sinhala Only Act which was mainly to please the Sinhala majority whose votes were necessary for him to become prime minister. more..

More entomologists to fight epidemics

Mar 17 (SAMN) Health Care and Nutrition Ministry will recruit 300 entomologists this year under the direction of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva to meet the rising demand, Ministry sources said. The Sri Lanka Entomologists’ Association was set up in 1917 but after 90 years still Sri Lanka has only 65 entomologists. more..

Ranil accuses Editors’ Guild, FMM

Mar 17 (SAMN) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has accused the Editors’ Guild of turning a blind eye to growing attacks on media freedom, particularly the targeting of Maubima. Addressing a public rally at Gampaha on Monday, the opposition leader slammed the Editors’ Guild, accusing its President Upali Tennakoon of neglecting his responsibility. The UNP leader was particularly harsh on Tennakoon, editor of Rivira. more..

156,000 entries for 'Sithuvili Sri Lanka’

Mar 17 (SAMN) The ‘Sithuvili Sri Lanka’ Art Exhibition was declared open to the public, at the BMICH, Colombo Thursday morning. This year there were more than 156,000 entries from all parts of the island, including Jaffna, said Nandadasa Rajapakse, chairman, D. Samson and Sons. The competition and exhibition is sponsored by the DSI Group. more..

Development under Gama Neguma

Mar 17 (SAMN) The Government will begin the Gama Neguma national project on March 29 to develop 4,000 villages across the country including the North and East spending nearly Rs. 77 billion to implement major social and economic development, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in each village to speedily achieve development goals, Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Minister S.M. Chandrasena said. more..

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardana’s comments in India ‘betrays Sri Lanka, shields LTTE’

Mar 17 (DN) Gampaha district UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardana during his Indian visit has reportedly made comments damaging to both Sri Lanka and the Government even disregarding the Foreign Ministry stance on the Indian fishermen issue. Dr. Jayawardana has made these detrimental comments at a media conference in Chennai on March 14, sources from India said. more..

New scanning technology to monitor containers at Colombo Port

Mar 17 (DN) The Sri Lanka Customs has implemented a new scanning technology to monitor containers at the Colombo port. State Revenue and Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya yesterday examined the newly installed scanning machines at the Sri Lanka Customs import container scanning site at the Colombo Port. The Minister said these new scanning machines will enable the Sri Lanka Customs to accelerate clearance at the customs and enhance Customs revenue. more..

Nine-month jail sentence for JJ’s son

Mar 17 (DM) The son of a frontline UNP parliamentarian was yesterday sentenced in absentia to nine months in jail for obstructing the performance of duties of a police constable by boxing him in the ear. Kavinda Gratian Jayawardena, son of Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena was found guilty of assaulting the police constable who was on duty near St. Bridget’s Convent in Colombo. more..

Peace Industry

Mar 17 (TW) It’s my believe that I have used correct heading for this short article even though its look likes anti peace and bit prejudice. The opening, which Dr. Sumanasiri Liyanage created, is timely and worth to examine and thorough scanning. Lack of organizational scanning and independent and professional evaluations continuously push Sri Lankan peace movement in to a sophisticate industry instead of peace movement and deteriorate its importance as a vibrant civil movement. more..

10 Lankan fishermen held

Mar 17 (NIP) The Indian Coast Guard apprehended 10 Lankan fishermen, who were reportedly caught in rough sea and dragged into the Indian waters off Thoothukudi shore on Thursday. Ten Sri Lankan nationals in two boats, fishing in their territory, 39 nautical miles off the Keelakarai coast, were said to have dragged into Indian waters as they were caught in an eddy. more..

Security beefed up at IDP camps

Mar 17 (DM) Amidst reports of human rights abuses threatening the security of thousands at refugee camps in Batticaloa, the government has decided to increase security in camps, a minister said yesterday. Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the decision was taken following a special directive by Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse. more..

Kingdom to Build SR75m Epilepsy Center in Sri Lanka

Mar 17 (AN) The Kingdom plans to build an epilepsy treatment facility in Colombo that will be the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, Saudi Ambassador Mohamed Mahmud Al-Ali told Arab News yesterday. The envoy said the copy of the proposal, which bears a price tag of SR75 million, was handed over recently to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a formal meeting held at the Temple Trees, the official residence of the president. more..

Sri Lankan Tamils furnish documents for renewal

Mar 17 (Hindu) Responding to a fiat from the City Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal a few days ago to renew their registration, several Sri Lankan Tamils here who had come to India from the island nation before December 31, 1992 and in possession of the Special Registration Certificate (SRC) turned up at the Office of the Commissioner of Police here on Friday. more..

War closes over 100 schools in Batticaloa

Mar 17 (HT) More than 100 schools have stopped functioning and over 50,000 acres of paddy have not been harvested in the Eastern Sri Lankan district of Batticaloa because of the on-going military operations against the LTTE, says the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). "92 schools between Mandur and Veppavettuvan have been closed because of the heavy shelling by the Army. more..