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Sri Lanka grows by a blistering 7.7 percent in 2006

Mar 29 (LBO) Sri Lanka grew by a blistering 7.7 percent in 2006, which is the highest on record, the country's statistics office said Thursday. The Department of Census and Statistics said agriculture grew by 6.1 percent, industry by 8.4 percent and services by 7.8 percent. "We are encouraged to see that all sectors performed well," Director General of Census and Statistics Suranjana Vidyaratne said. more..

‘Jathika Saviya - Gama Neguma’ inaugurates today

Mar 29 (GDI) “Development should not be based on politics and up to this date Sri Lanka has not received any benefit from development programmes which did not involve its population in it,” stated President Mahinda Rajapaksa. President Rajapaksa expressed these views today while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the ‘Jathika Saviya- Gama Neguma’ programme, connecting via satellite. more..

Essential food importers assure stable prices during festive period

Mar 29 (GDI) The Association of Essential Food Importers assures to maintain a stable price for food items during the Sinahala and Hindu New Year festival in the month of April. The discussion took place under the Government’s initiative to implement a special programme to supply essential food items to the people without any shortages during the festive period. more..

Mihin Lanka commences air operations

Mar 29 (GDI) The ‘Mihin Lanka’ Airlines yesterday had its inaugural flight to Bodhgaya carrying 165 passengers. The A320 type aircraft which left Katunayake in the morning, landed at the Bodhgaya Airport around noon. It returned to Colombo the same evening. The flight comprised with members of the ‘Maha Sangha’, a group of senior officials and media personnel. more..

LTTE works with other terror groups in South Asia

Mar 29 (GDI) Former Ambassador and Professor S.D. Muni, an Expert on South Asia says that the LTTE has been working with other South Asian terrorist groups which he does not see it as a good sign for the region. Muni, the Editor of the Indian Foreign Affairs journal, told the Daily News: “It is clear that the LTTE shares its knowledge with other South Asian terror groups. They have supplied arms to the terrorist groups in North East of India. more..

Ready to help Sri Lanka

Mar 29 (Hindu) India is ready to help Sri Lanka find a solution to its escalating violence and humanitarian tragedy, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told presspersons here on Wednesday. Asked about Monday's aerial attack by the LTTE, he said the incident was one example of the escalating violence. "We are very concerned about the escalation of violence," the Foreign Secretary, who has served as India's High Commissioner to Colombo, said in response to questions. more..

Air raids, regime changes and dogfights

Mar 29 (ANN) Whatever success that the Tamil Tigers has achieved over the years is not due to its much flaunted military prowess. It has been wrongly credited with pioneering suicide bombing, which, some observers mistakenly believe, is its most potent weapon. True, its military capability cannot be underestimated. But, what has helped it graduate from a ragtag army to a formidable guerrilla outfit and survive successive governments is its ability to effect regime changes and thereby gain breathers from time to time. more..

Troops capture last Tamil civilian centre

Mar 29 (ANN) The government yesterday (Mar 28) brought Kokkadicholai, the last Tamil Tigers civilian centre, under its control as security forces stepped up pressure on the group in the aftermath of Monday’s (Mar 26) airbase raid. Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said a series of small group operations spearheaded by the seventh battalion of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) forced the LTTE out of the township. more..

The ills of too many pills

Mar 29 (LNP) In a major move to restore a patient-friendly health service in both the public and the private sectors, legislation is to be introduced soon for the setting up of a wide-powered National Medicinal Drug Regulatory Authority. The main objective of the NMDRA would be to ensure financial independence, improve efficiency and effectiveness, improve quality assurance of drugs, provide transparency and accountability and achieve regulatory balance. more..

Govt against settlement negotiation: PM

Mar 29 (SAMN) The government will never ever agree to a 'settlement negotiation' as outlined in a letter sent to the government by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said. He was addressing the World Drama Day held at the John De Silva Theatre, Colombo. Prime Minister Wickremanyake said that the Wickremasinghe sent him a letter requesting to summon the Parliament and at the same time he has issued the same letter to the media. more..

'False propaganda counter productive'

Mar 29 (SAMN) False propaganda on military successes is counter productive and actually harmful in the long term, Kandy District UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday. Certain sections of the media,he said are projecting a rosy image while concealing the obvious shortcomings. "This approach is actually counter productive in the long run.In their eagerness to please the powers that be,they fail to see the glaring weaknesses in the security establishment." more..

Rajitha: Air attack minor matter

Mar 29 (SAMN) The Wijedasa Rajapakshe report of the Committee on Public Enterprises cannot be investigated by a Parliamentary Select Committee as there has been no Parliamentary precedent since 1947 to lend support to such a move, said Dr. Rajitha Senaratne. He said former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should be held responsible for the allegations and disclosures made in the COPE report, as all transactions had taken place during their terms of office. more..

Anuradhapura doctors go on strike

Mar 29 (SAMN) Thousands of patients were put to inconvenience yesterday due a lightning strike launched by doctors in all Government hospitals, in the Anuradhapura District. Their grouse for launching the one-day token strike was failure by the authorities to fill vacancies in hospitals in the area. They pointed out that the posts of Director and deputy Director of health services for the North Central Province were still vacant. more..

Bank ordered to give details of Rs 12 m SLPA cheques

Mar 29 (DN) Colombo Chief Magistrate Sarojini Kusala Weerawardane issued order on a private bank to provide details of three cheques worth of Rs.12 million belonging to the Ports Authority. The Magistrate issued the order considering a request forwarded by the CID. The CID told court that they have started investigations following a complaint received that Rs.12 million belonging to Ports Authority had been misused. more..

Politicians should protect dignity of public servants - Home Affairs Minister

Mar 29 (DN) Political leaders should protect the dignity of public servants, said Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister Karu Jayasuriya. Addressing a workshop for Assistant Divisional Secretaries held at New Town Hall, Minister Jayasuriya said “the 17th amendment to the Constitution has been designed to empower and strengthen the public servant”. more..

Yahoo Photos

Mar 29 (AFP) File photo shows children watching a street drama in Colombo. Human Rights Watch on Thursday accused Sri Lanka of failing to probe the recruitment of child soldiers by a Tamil militant group linked to government forces. more..

Government to send newsprint to Jaffna

Mar 29 (DM) The Government has made arrangements to send a shipment of newsprint to Jaffna to meet the urgent shortfall faced by publishers in the peninsula, Essential Services Commissioner S. Divaratne said. He told the Daily Mirror some 50 MT of news print was being loaded onto a ship bound for Jaffna within the next few days. more..

Police request public vigilance

Mar 29 (DM) In the wake of the incident at the Katunayake Air Force Base, Police headquarters have requested the public to inform the police emergency telephone no. 116 or 119 immediately if any suspicious aircraft were sighted in the sky. The CID team conducting inquiries into the Katunayake incident recorded the statements of the Vavuniya police officers who claimed to have informed the Air Force authorities about the two aircraft that attacked the Katunayake Base, about half an hour before the incident took place. more..

Pakistan promotes Buddhist centres as tourist spots

Mar 29 (IANS) Pakistan is observing 'Gandhara Week' to promote the country's Buddhist centres as tourist destinations even as it fails to attract enough foreign visitors owing to its image as a hub of terrorism. Harjeet Kaur, a tourist operator from Malaysia, said potential tourists from Europe and the Far East were reluctant to visit Pakistan due to its internal situation and regional conflicts. more..

Malinga reveals exciting talent

Mar 29 (BBC) Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga is a quietly spoken 23-year-old with arguably the most unorthodox bowling action in international cricket. But he enhanced his burgeoning reputation as a rising star in this World Cup, by reviving a Super 8 match where South Africa were cruising to victory and writing his name in the history books. more..

China calls for peace, stability in Sri Lanka

Mar 29 (Xinhua) China said on Thursday that it hoped for an early realization of national reconciliation and social stability in Sri Lanka. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks at a regular press conference here on Thursday when asked to comment on the air strike at a Sri Lankan air base, which claimed three lives and caused 16 injuries. more..

Sri Lankan Airlines a huge success in India

Mar 29 (IANS) With 10,000 seats in 95 weekly flights from 10 different airports in India, Sri Lankan Airlines is currently the leading foreign airlines operating to and from India. In a chat with newsmen here Thursday, Asha Subramonian, sales manager of the airlines, said that the airlines is the only foreign carrier that operates from all the three international airports in Kerala. more..

Sri Lankan rebels air strike could be copied by other groups: experts

Mar 29 (IRNA) The LTTE air strike on a Sri Lankan airbase has raised questions about the security of Indian airspace, with experts making it clear that New Delhi needs to take steps to counter threats from the sky as other militant groups could emulate the Tamil Tigers. Though there was no immediate security threat to India, "the medium and long-term threats will arise from the likelihood of copy-cat terrorism and the LTTE one day using it against an Indian target", more..

TN Assembly witnesses unruly scenes over Lanka issue

Mar 29 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu Assembly today witnessed unruly scenes with MDMK and Congress members nearly coming to blows over the issue of Sri Lanka's Tamils. The trouble started when Congress members interrupted the speech of MDMK member Veera Ilavarasan who claimed Tamils were undergoing suffering at the hands of the Sri Lankan army. more..

Sri Lanka will bounce back, says Jayawardene

Mar 29 (AFP) Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene says his team will bounce back from their dramatic one-wicket World Cup Super Eights defeat against South Africa at the Guyana National Stadium. Jayawardene said the fact that his team came so close to winning yesterday after a poor batting performance showed the ability and the fighting spirit of his players. more..

Ammunition found, India ups coastal security

Mar 29 (IANS) Ammunition that may have been meant for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas have been discovered hidden in coconut groves in hamlets on the Tamil Nadu coast, officials said Thursday. The development comes as India announced it was placing the southeast coast under radar surveillance following the first aerial attack on a Sri Lankan air base near Colombo by the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka complicit in child soldier recruitment: rights group

Mar 29 (AFP) Sri Lanka came under fresh attack on Thursday for failing to probe the recruitment of child soldiers as the government faced more allegations of abductions and extra-judicial killings. The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) offered new evidence of state complicity in the forced recruitment of child soldiers by the "Karuna group", which is allied to security forces. more..

Yahoo Photos

Mar 29 (AFP) Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga celebrates the dismissal of South Africa's Jacques Kallis during the Super Eight Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Georgetown, Guyana, Wednesday March 28, 2007. more..

Sri Lankans crack down on private planes after rebel airstrike

Mar 29 (AP) Sri Lankan officials confiscated a privately owned light aircraft Thursday, days after the Tamil Tiger rebels' first airstrike in their two-decade conflict with the government, officials said. The air force took custody of the craft even though the owner had a license for it, said air force spokesman Group Capt. Ajantha Silva. more..

Terror cannot oust me: Rajapaksa

Mar 29 (HT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that terrorism cannot bring down his government and that if the opposition (namely, United National Party) thinks that it can come to power taking advantage of terrorist strikes, it is thoroughly mistaken. "Friends, after the air attack at Katunayake, there were those who asked me to resign. They placed the blame on us for carrying out a major war. They spoke the same language as Prabhakaran (the Leader of the LTTE)." more..

Rights group slams Sri Lanka government, rebels over child soldiers

Mar 29 (AP) The Sri Lankan government has taken no action on reports that its troops ignore the widespread recruitment of child soldiers by a militia fighting separatist Tamil rebels, an international human rights group said Thursday. New York-based Human Rights Watch said the government's complicity in allowing the forced recruitment was "blatant." It also slammed the rebels for continuing to abduct children and forcing them to serve as soldiers. more..

Another statue of the Virgin sheds tears of blood at Mannar, where civil war rages

Mar 30 (AN) A statue of Our Lady in Sri Lanka’s war-torn Mannar district has reportedly shed tears of blood. This is the third such report to come from the north of the island since last month, following similar claims made about two statues in Jaffna District. All three statues are in places that are in the thick of Sri Lanka’s civil war. more..

'LTTE trying to acquire submarine'

Mar 30 (CO) The LTTE, which has raised security concerns by becoming the world's first insurgent group to use air power, might be working on acquiring underwater vessels that could pose a threat to merchant shipping in regional waters. Reports have suggested that the LTTE, which has a naval wing called the Sea Tigers, is building a mini-submarine as part of its new arsenal. more..

LTTE's air attack cababilities must be targeted by SLAF and armed forces says EROS

Mar 30 (ISL) The SLAF must bombard and destroy all aircrafts belonging to the LTTE and runways utilized by the LTTE to target military bases and installations. These must be targeted by the SLAF based on reconnaissance and intelligence information. The LTTE cannot simply be allowed to use air capabilities and target military bases and installations. more..

Summary of the Cabinet Decisions - 28.03.2007

Mar 30 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by Hon. Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Transport for upgrading the Central Bus Stand in Pettah with the participation of the private sector. As per the Cabinet approval the proposal by the M/s Hammer BTC (pvt) Ltd. will be accepted and the space in the ground floor of the building and outdoor area of Central Bus Stand will be made available after signing a MoU between M/s Hammer BTC (pvt) Ltd. and the Ministry. more..

Prime Minister holds bilateral discussions with Romanian and Laos Ambassadors

Mar 30 (GDI) Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayake yesterday held bilateral discussions with the Romanian ambassador in Sri Lanka Vasile Sofineti and Laos’s ambassador in Sri Lanka Ly Bounkham. Prime Minister Wickramanayake and Ambassador Vasile Sofineti discussed about the economic and political situation and bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Romania. more..

Children at the Highest Risk in Conflict Areas of Sri Lanka

Mar 30 (CCF) In the conflict areas of eastern Sri Lanka, hundreds of thousands of families have been forced to flee their homes; many of whom are now living in camps for internally displaced people (IDP). An estimated 127,000 displaced people were reported in the Batticaloa district alone. The fighting has subsided as government forces regained control of the Vaharai area of Batticaloa. more..

History-making Malinga, a paceman with a difference

Mar 30 (AFP) Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga nearly gatecrashed South Africa's party when he became the first bowler in one-day history to grab four wickets off successive balls. The paceman with the low-slung round-arm action, bleach-blond hair and eyebrow ring dismissed Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini to raise his team's hopes of an incredible victory in a World Cup Super Eights match here on Wednesday. more..

Four fishermen killed as Lankan Navy opens fire

Mar 30 (PTI) Four Indian fishermen were killed and two injured when Sri Lankan navy allegedly opened fire at them today. The six Indians were allegedly fishing in Sri Lankan waters when the naval personnel opened fire at them killing two of them on the spot, while two others drowned in the sea, officials said. The two injured were brought to Kanyakumari for treatment. The Lanka navy opened fire without giving any warning, officials claimed. more..

Papers close to Samaraweera close down

Mar 30 (HT) Two papers, the Sinhala daily Mawbima and the English weekly Sunday Standard, both identified with the sacked Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, have closed down on financial grounds triggering protests from the media watchdog Free Media Movement (FMM). Tiran Alles, a financier of Mangala Samaraweera, was the owner of the Standard Newspapers Group, which ran the two papers. more..

Sri Lanka: The women leaders of a remote hamlet

Mar 30 (AT) Forty one year old housewife Iruthayamary possesses remarkable leadership qualities and is accepted by all in her village of Periyamurippu. In a comparatively short period of time Iruthayamary has grown in stature and is now a much sought after community leader. Iruthayamary is also conversant with several aspects of construction projects. more..

Douglas Devananda to sign Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York today

Mar 30 (AT) Douglas Devananda Sri Lanka’s Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare is in New York is scheduled to sign the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at a solemn ceremony to be held at the UN General Assembly hall today (Friday, 30 March) Fifty other countries too will be signing this Convention in New York today. more..

Trustee of Tiger charity in London suspended and bank accounts restricted

Mar 30 (AT) After opening an inquiry into the Sivayogam Trust -- a controversial trust linked to the Tamil Tigers -- the Charity Commission in London has suspended one of the trustees. It has also restricted certain transactions including the bank accounts of the Trust. This Trust manages the Muttumari Amman Temple in Tooting, which is considered to be on the biggest money-making temples in London. more..

Malaysian company admits training Jaffna Tamil pilots

Mar 30 (AT) Dr.T. Dorai, Principal of Advance Aeronautics Training Centre located in Perak as well as in Ipoh , Malaysia, told the Asian Tribune that his organization is giving training on flying as well as on aircraft maintenance engineering to Tamil students from Jaffna, Sri Lanka. When asked whether those students who undergo courses in his training centre are from the LTTE more..

Between troops and Tigers: refugees caught in Sri Lanka's bloody crossfire

Mar 30 (GU) Sitting beneath a palm tree, Loganathan points to his new "house": a brown tent with blankets for a floor just outside Batticaloa, a town on Sri Lanka's east coast straddling a blue lagoon. The 34-year-old Tamil labourer says his family have been sheltering under the tarpaulin since November when a mortar shell landed in his garden, which was about 62 miles away from the refugee camp he now calls home. more..

Sri Lankan minister calls for protection to parliament from rebel air strike

Mar 30 (Xinhua) A senior Sri Lankan government minister on Thursday called for security measures to be put in place in the island's parliament in order to protect it from a possible air strike by Tamil Tiger rebels. Anura Bandaranaike, the minister of National Heritage in a letter to Speaker of parliament W. J. M. Lokubanadara has drawn the attention of the latter to protect the assembly. more..

Mahinda 'gave money' to LTTE

Mar 30 (BBC) The main opposition in Sri Lanka has accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration of offering a lump sum to arch rival Tamil Tigers. The UNP said Rajapaksa offered Rs.1500 million to LTTE before and after November 2005 presidential elections. "Rs. 700 million was offered before the lections and another Rs. 800 million was offered after the elections," UNP media spokesman Gayantha Karunathilake told BBC Sandeshaya. more..

Launch of the Air Tiger enterprise

Mar 30 (TW) Whether the attack was minimal or not, the Tigers proved to the world and the Sri Lankan Government that whatever Kfirs, MIGs the GOSL possessed it could also steer not one but two self-assembled aircrafts all the way from the North to hit Sri Lanka’s main Air force base in Katunayake. The preparation for the attack would have been known by more than a few for immediately following the attack WEB circulations of press releases and photo shoots of the beaming pilots with the Tiger supremo and the aircraft itself were released globally. more..

From the edge of the sea: Finding new hope in Sri Lanka

Mar 30 (RW) As the dance recital begins, a warm breeze blows through the open windows bringing the smell of the ocean – a mere 200 yards away – inside. Two years ago, the tsunami brought the ocean into the village, sweeping away families and homes from Dondra, the southernmost point of Sri Lanka. Within the country, more than 35,000 people died or went missing and nearly half a million were displaced by the December 2004 disaster. more..

Community groups helping neighbors

Mar 30 (RW) Community groups formed to guide village redevelopment in the wake of the tsunami are now playing a central role in Mercy Corps' distributions of cookware, tarps and other relief items to families fleeing their homes in the face of the country's escalating civil conflict. This timely collaboration is a fresh indication that efforts to organize and empower communities have paid off. more..