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Compensation only for vessels, gear damaged by natural disaster

Feb 20 (DN) Fisheries Minister Felix Perera told Parliament yesterday that the Government would only compensate owners of fishing vessels and gear damaged by natural disaster. Responding to a question by JVP MP Pemasiri Manage, the Minister said the Government is not ready to grant compensation in respect of damaged vessels used for illegal activities. The Minister said the Government had no ability to pay compensation for vessels damaged due to owners' mistakes and shortcomings. more..

Three hardcore criminals killed in Negombo prison shooting

Feb 20 (Island) Chaos reigned at the Negombo prison yesterday afternoon when three prisoners were shot dead. Police had to be called in to strengthen security at the prison to prevent other inmates attempting to capitalise on the situation and make a bid for freedom. The three prisoners killed had been involved in robberies and murders and were described as hardcore criminals. more..

'Govt MPs backing cattle slaughter'

Feb 20 (Island) UNP MP Joseph Michael Perera told Parliament yesterday that cattle thieves operate with impunity and are above the law with the assistance of lawmen. There would be no practical meaning in introducing new laws to curb illegal cattle slaughter in such a scenario, he said. MP Perera said that the UNP was against illegal cattle slaughter, but there were reports that Government MPs were backing cattle thieves and cattle slaughterers. more..

No ban on Makkal TV - Govt.

Feb 20 (DM) The government said yesterday it had not imposed any ban on the South Indian satellite television station Makkal TV (People’s TV) as claimed by the network in statements aired on its channel and in a message posted on its website. Information Department director Anusha Pelpitta said his office had not imposed any such restriction on an Indian TV station under that name nor was there such a channel registered with this department for operating in Sri Lanka. more..

Lasantha Assassination: Phone sent for examination

Feb 20 (DM) Mirihana police inquiring into the assassination of the former Editor of Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickrematunge sought a court order to refer the cellular phone used by the victim to the Data Processing Department of the Moratuwa University for examination and report. Police made this request when the inquiry into the assassination resumed before the Mt. Lavinia Magistrate Harsha Sethunga last morning. more..

Stop military help, says Sri Lankan politician

Feb 20 (PTI) India should help stop the killing of Tamil civilians by immediately ending all military aid to the Sri Lankan armed forces, said Sri Lankan politician Siritunga Jayasuriya. “The Indian government should set a positive example by stopping all its military support to the Sri Lankan government right now,” Mr. Jayasuriya told a meeting organised by civil society groups at the Press Club of India here on Thursday. more..

Tamils set for Geneva mass march over Sri Lanka - U.N.

Feb 20 (Reuters) About 20,000 Tamils from across Europe are expected to protest in Geneva on Friday at Sri Lanka's military offensive against Tamil rebels, the United Nations said on Thursday. Police in the Swiss city, which is home to the U.N. European headquarters and to many Tamil immigrants, said 200 buses from across Europe were expected to bring protesters in. Demonstrators were expected to wind through Geneva in the afternoon and then more..

Displacement to worsen, aid agencies warn

Feb 20 (IRIN) Outside the primary school in Vavuniya, northern Sri Lanka, the warning signs are everywhere. Scores of civilians caught up in the crossfire between government forces and the LTTE, who have been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1983, stand in the midday heat awaiting assistance. “We barely got out alive,” one woman from Kilinochchi town told IRIN, recalling in vivid detail her escape along with hundreds of men, women and children into government-held territory one week earlier. more..

Civilian 'slaughter' in Sri Lanka

Feb 20 (BBC) The campaign group, Human Rights Watch, has accused the Sri Lankan army of "slaughter" and rebels of "brutality" towards civilians in the north-east. It called on the government to end its "indiscriminate artillery attacks" on civilians and its policy of "detaining displaced persons in internment camps". Human Rights Watch also condemned the Tamil Tigers for "increased brutality" towards trapped civilians. more..

President to visit Buddhist shrines in Nepal

Feb 20 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is scheduled to visit his Nepal in March and pray at holy Buddhist shrines in the land where the Buddha was born. Rajapaksa has accepted the invitation by Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to pay a three-day visit, the Himalayan Times daily reported Friday. Details of the visit in the first week of March have not been disclosed due to security reasons. more..

The Tigers' lair

Feb 20 (Economist) As the Sri Lankan army drives the Tamil Tigers from ever more of the northern territory they once held, a fuller picture is emerging of the rebels. Soldiers have stumbled upon weaponry that speaks of a well-resourced militant group that had systematically armed itself to bomb a government into submission. Hiran Halangode, a retired brigadier, describes them as a well-financed, innovative group: “not the run-of-the-mill sort of organisation with an ammo dump that you could catch any time you wished”. more..

Lawyers torch police station in southern India

Feb 20 (Reuters) Lawyers set fire to a police station in southern India and 20 police were injured in clashes on Thursday after the arrest of legal counsel sympathetic to Sri Lankan rebels, police said. In a standoff lasting several hours in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state where some sympathise with the Sri Lankan rebels, police baton-charged the lawyers in a court complex and fired teargas. more..

'Sri Lanka inflation to fall to 8.0-pct by end-Feb'

Feb 20 (LBO) Falling inflation is giving Sri Lanka more room to loosen monetary policy, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said Friday, though the island is grappling with a balance of payments problem. Sri Lanka's 12-month inflation would fall to around 8.0 percent in February from 10.7 percent in January and year-end inflation would be in single digits, "closer to 5.0 percent than 10.0 percent, Cabraal told reporters. more..

LTTE underwater scooters, diving kits found

Feb 20 (MoD) Infantrymen of 58 Division further advanced into LTTE hiding area entering Ampalavanpokkanai town perimeter have found underwater scooter, diving kits, oxygen cylinders and many other diving equipments from west of Puthukudiyirippu area yesterday. Nearly 5 hours long fighting between troops of 6 Gemunu Watch (6GW) and terrorists ensued in the area before troops captured these items, defence sources in battlefront said. more..

Sri Lanka stands firm in row over British envoy

Feb 20 (AFP) Sri Lanka's cabinet refused to withdraw its opposition to a British special envoy despite fresh talks between the two sides on the island's growing humanitarian crisis, a minister said Thursday. Ministers who met on Wednesday evening took up the British request to send special envoy Des Browne to assess the unfolding plight of civilians trapped in the island's northeastern war zone, a minister who declined to be named said. more..

Troops capture another Tiger village

Feb 20 (AFP) Security forces seized another village from Tamil Tiger rebels, the government said Friday, as international concern mounted about the plight of civilians caught in the shrinking war zone. Government forces established control over the village of Ampalavanpokkanai in the district of Mullaittivu on Thursday afternoon following heavy fighting. The bodies of seven guerrillas were recovered, but a search operation was still underway. more..

Rights group says many Sri Lankan civilians killed

Feb 20 (AP) Civilian casualties in Sri Lanka's civil war have skyrocketed in the past two months as government forces indiscriminately shell the northern war zone and Tamil Tiger rebels fire on families trying to flee, Human Rights Watch said Friday. The New York-based rights group called on both sides to immediately stop "the ongoing slaughter of civilians." more..

First Vocational Technical Training University opens soon

Feb 21 (GDI) The first ever Vocational Technical Training University in Sri Lanka will be opened in Ratmalana next month by the Ministry of Vocational and Training, the Ministry sources said. Accordingly, Prof. Kapila Gunasekera has been appointed the first Vice- Chancellor of the University by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as per the provisions provided by Act No. 31 of 2008 Vocational Technical Training Universities. more..

Mahiyangana declared sacred area

Feb 21 (GDI) Mahiyangana town has been declared as a sacred area and will be renovated on the instructions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to mark 2600 years since The Buddha's first visit to the country, Chief Government Whip and Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dinesh Gunawardene said at the Parliament yesterday (20). The renovation and construction work will be carried out under a systematic plan," he noted. more..

No need for power cuts – CEB

Feb 21 (GDI) The Ceylon Electricity Board need not enforce an immediate power cut, the Power and Energy Ministry said and it hoped consumers cut down power consumption voluntarily. A senior official of the Power and Energy Ministry said water levels in the hydropower reservoirs was manageable if rains come soon. According to CEB officials if the rains fail before March 1, the situation would be fairly critical. more..

Lanka ready to accept India’s offer: envoy

Feb 21 (GDI) Sri Lanka conveyed its willingness to accept India’s assistance in evacuating civilians caught in the conflict in the island nation yesterday. “The plight of the civilians is of foremost concern to the Sri Lankan government as well. It is a sentiment we share with India,” Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India C. R. Jayasinghe said here. “India has formally indicated its interest in evacuating civilians. We are open to accepting logistical help from friendly countries like India,” more..

UPFA commences ‘campaign’

Feb 21 (LT) The UPFA has commenced its ‘campaign’ by holding meetings through the government agent. Letters are sent through the government agent to ‘Samurdhi’ coordinators and ‘Samurdhi’ recipients to hold meetings on the pretext of having discussions. Those who attend these meetings have been instructed to perform as supporters of the UNP and the JVP joining the UPFA. The first round of these discussions is being completed and another meeting will be held on the 28th more..

Suicide Sri Lankan maid allegedly sets house on blaze: report

Feb 21 (LG) Two Bahraini youngsters were dragged unconscious from a blazing home, after their maid apparently set it on fire and hanged herself yesterday.Sri Lankan Mariyamma Berunan, 32, is believed to have poured kerosene throughout the Riffa home and set it ablaze.Her body was found hanging from a bedroom ceiling fan after firemen rescued the youngsters and tackled the blaze.Police were investigating. more..

Beware Tamilnadu: Devil’s dollars leads to disaster

Feb 21 (LG) Tamilnadu has begun to experience what Pro-LTTE Diaspora dollars can do to law and order in any civilized society anywhere in the world. The major-yeast factor in India is the mini-nuisance maker political parties of Gopalaswamy, Ramdoss, Thirumavalavan, Nedumaran and others. Their political views are never constant; they ride the crest of foul and fetid opportunism from election to election; call it political prostitution. more..

Is Peace Rainbow High? O, Sri Lanka!

Feb 21 (LG) The UN is beginning to shift its blame on India, for its inaction on the plight of Tamil civilians. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But underneath it all, the international system, is drowned in political hypocrisy, lop-sided justice and bureaucratic bungling. Yet again, the Rwandan genocide, and the UN's inaction comes to haunt one's memory. India - the emerging super power has kept its lip sealed only to say that the Tamil Tigers will have to disarm (which is equal to surrender) and more..

Minister Mervyn Silva acquitted

Feb 21 (BBC) A controversial minister in Sri Lanka has been acquitted of attacking a media team in Peliyagoda and damaging their camera equipments. The Colombo magistrate acquitted Labour Minister Mervyn Silva after police informed the court that no charges will be filed against him. The minister and three other suspects were accused of attacking a team from MTV-MBC (Sirasa) private television station. more..

First Take on LTTE Air raids on Colombo

Feb 21 (TC) The ability of the LTTE to shock and once again came into play when two light aircraft of its air wing made a daring bid to bomb the headquarters of the Air Force in Colombo and the Katunayake air base near the capital around 9.45 PM on February 20, 2009. But unlike the LTTE's earlier six bombing raids this time the two aircraft did not return home. Both were shot down by the much maligned Sri Lankan air defence system got into action quickly on spotting the aircraft. more..

Tamil Tiger planes raid Colombo

Feb 21 (BBC) Two planes belonging to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have attacked the capital Colombo, killing two people and injuring about 45, officials say. Both planes were downed, one of them hitting inland revenue offices, where the casualties occurred, officials said. The building was badly damaged. The other plane was shot down near the city's airport, which was closed. The raid comes as the army has driven the Tigers into a shrinking zone of jungle in the north of Sri Lanka. more..

Animal Welfare Bill introduced, Act amended

Feb 21 (AT) JHU (National Heritage Party) Parliamentarian Venerable Athuraliye Rathana placed the Animal Welfare Bill on the Order Paper of Sri Lanka's Parliament on Thursday February 19. The Bill provides the framework for the protection of animals from cruelty; to foster kindness, compassion and responsible behaviour towards these creatures and to establish a National Animal Welfare Authority; among other matters. more..

Ambassador Fernando presents credentials to President Sarkozy

Feb 21 (AT) Sri Lankan Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Mr Lionel Fernando has presented his credentials to French President Nicholas Sarkozy at Elysee Palace recently. During the brief discussion he had with President Sarkozy, Ambassador Fernando described the progress of Sri Lanka's battle against terrorism. After congratulating the new Ambassador, President Sarkozy expressed his wish to visit Sri Lanka and more..

Rivals highjack Tamil sympathiser rally in Canberra

Feb 21 (AT) Australian Tamil sympathisers travelling from Sydney and Melbourne demonstrated today outside a number of Canberra embassies. The group numbering 300 demonstrators demanded international assistance to end the violent conflict in the north of Sri Lanka. The protesters demanded the imposition of international sanctions on Sri Lanka. Aid organisations including UN have been critical of the Tamil Tigers for not allowing civilians to escape from the intense battle areas and holding civilians as hostages. more..

R2P – Right to Protest for the sake of freedom

Feb 21 (AT) Two weeks ago, thousands of Sri Lankans of all walks of life launched a protest march to highlight the challenges faced by the democratically elected government in the island nation. There was no better place for the event, where the symbol of parliament democracy, the Westminster landmarks, majestically rises into the sky – City of London. The patriotic sons and daughters of Sri Lanka highlighted the unfair role played by certain media, including the BBC, more..

United States: A Mistrusted Ally of Sri Lanka

Feb 21 (AT) When Jeffrey Lunstead was U.S. State Department’s envoy to Sri Lanka in 2003-06 he lived through two diametrically opposed regimes, pro-Western Wickremasinghe-Kumaratunga which catered to Sri Lanka’s internationalist agenda dominated jointly by the West and the Tamil Tigers, and nationalist oriented Rajapaksa regime with a strong indigenous agenda disliked by the West, using his super power clout to convince the indispensability of the Tamil Tigers and therefore the importance of a political solution. more..

India must assist Sri Lanka every way to put an end to the LTTE menace

Feb 21 (AT) Dr Subramnmanian Swamy while commending the policy statement made by India’s External Affairs Minister Prnab Mukerjee in the floor of the India’s Parliament, he insisted that LTTE is part of the problem in Sri Lanka, and can never be part of any solution acceptable to India. Janata Party Leader and the Dr. Subramanian Swamy emphasized that India must assist the Sri Lanka Government in every way to put an end to the LTTE and more..

'Protection of children must be a the first priority'

Feb 21 (TC) “The protection of civilians, especially children, must be the first priority in the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka and both sides must act accordingly,” said Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The LTTE must release the civilians to safety, especially the children. The Government must be more circumspect with regard to artillery fire and aerial bombardment to avoid civilian casualties. more..

Know thy neighbors well: Tamil Nadu political leaders told

Feb 21 (AT) "The time has come for Tamil Nadu to wake up and tell the LTTE enough is enough and also to do its best to rebuild the good relationship that prevailed between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka until recently, when the TNA Members of Parliament of Sri Lanka mis-informed them and roused the feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu. I strongly urge Tamil Nadu to persuade the LTTE to give up their demand for separation and to agree for a solution based on the Indian constitution and also to lay down their arms. more..

Indian government offers full support for Sri Lankan war

Feb 21 (wsws) In a statement to the parliament last Wednesday, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on the separatist LTTE in Sri Lanka to unconditionally surrender and offered to evacuate Tamil civilians from the war zone in the north of the island. New Delhi's overt support for the Sri Lankan government's communal war is not motivated by concern for the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the island's northern war zone. more..

Govt. snubs UNP, seeks 5/6th majority

Feb 21 (SAMN) The government Friday snubbed the UNP’s offer to help it get a two-thirds majority to introduce a new Constitution by saying President Mahinda Rajapaksa was capable of getting as much as a five-sixths majority at the next general elections. While thanking the UNP for its offer, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, said the UNP spokesman MP Lakshman Kiriella’s offer, coming as it does after the UPFA’s resounding victory at the Central and North Western Provincial Council polls, was too late. more..

LTTE air raid thwarted; both terrorist aircraft destroyed

Feb 21 (MoD) The latest reports indicate that both LTTE aircraft entered into the Colombo aerospace were destroyed by the air defence system. One of the aircraft disabled by anti air gunfire reportedly crashed in the rear of the Inland Revenue Department building located on the Sir C.A. Gardiner road. The two LTTE aircraft were detected in the air above Colombo around 9.45 last night. Following the detection, air defence system was activated causing the two terrorist aircraft to abort their missions. more..

The 'last-night-flight'- Security forces nail LTTE's rudimentary 'air wing'

Feb 21 (MoD) Now cornered in a mere land patch in the Mullaittivu district the psycho terror chief Prabakaran may have thought to showcase a stunt out of his sleeves on Friday (Feb 20) in the Colombo skies pushing for a turn of tables, drawing skeptical analysis from the 'Colombian elites' and draconian media stooges, while simultaneously bluffing out the war mongering diaspora community with an action package for consumption. more..

Situation Report (Feb 21) by SLA

Feb 21 (SLA) ROOPS of 8 GW under the command of 58 Division conducting a search operation in PUTHUKUDIYIRIPPU area on Friday (20), recovered thirty claymore mines, weighing about 12.5 kg, twenty-two claymore mines weighing about 2.5 kg, thirty gas masks, bicycle balls used for bombs weighing about 300 kg, about thirty thousand non-electric detonators, about thirty thousand electric detonators, thirty three barrels of explosives weighing about 990 kg, more..

'Our main concern is safety of IDPs'

Feb 21 (MoD) "Our main concern is the safety of the civilians that the LTTE is holding hostage for their human shield, and we are taking every precaution to ensure their safety," said President Rajapaksa to Sir John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs when they met at the Presidential Secretariat this morning. The meeting followed the visit of Sir John to the IDP camps at Vavuniya yesterday, more..

Expatriate Sri Lankans in the US demonstrate solidarity for SL troops

Feb 21 (MoD) Expatriate Sri Lankans in the United States staged a massive rally in front of the White House in Washington DC, on Friday (Feb 20), in support of the heroic Sri Lankan forces. In spite of Friday February 20, being a working day in the United States, thousands of patriotic Sri Lankans gathered from all over the east coast states to attend the rally in support recent Humanitarian missions of the Sri Lankan Security Forces. more..

Minister contradicts Sambandan

Feb 21 (SAMN) Mass Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa in a statement issued Friday refuted allegations made by R Sambandan MP over a private TV channel on February 17 regarding the situation of civilians in Vanni. “I was surprised by the allegations he (Sambandan) was making and by the ignorance he feigned regarding the true situation of civilians in the Vanni, whom he claims to represent,” the Minister said in the statement. more..

Partially burnt 2 LTTE aircraft found in Puthukkudiyirippu

Feb 21 (MoD) Security forces now pushing into the last LTTE bastion town at Puthukkudiyirippu in Mullaittivu have come across two partially burnt LTTE aircraft, which military believe were under construction, Thursday (Feb 19). According to ground sources, one craft found was a light fixed wing craft while the other was an unmanned aircraft (UAV). It is believed that LTTE had been receiving expert instructions, training and material on assembling these aircraft from foreigners who more..

Running Out Of Fuel

Feb 21 (OI) According to web accounts of pro-LTTE websites, two so-called Black Air Tigers of the LTTE carried out kamikazee style suicide 'dives" into the SLAF Headquarters on the Slave Island in Colombo and into the SLAF base at Katunayaka between 9-20 and 9-45 PM on February 20, 2009, killing two persons and injuring 51 others. The pro-LTTE web site Tamilnet has released a photograph of the two so-called kamikazee pilots-- Col. Roopan and Lt. Col. Siriththiran-- with Velupillai Prabakaran before they embarked on their kamikazee mission. more..

Legal action awaits poster 'culprits'

Feb 21 (DN) CMC Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said yesterday legal action will be taken against politicians and tutory owners who deface city walls with posters. He said the poster menace has assumed serious proportions with the forthcoming WPC elections. Most posters, banners and cutouts are made of polythene or thick un-biodegradable material. When it rains the material will wash away and block the drainage system. more..

Ratmalana Hindu College to receive Rs. 17m building

Feb 21 (DN) The Minister of Youth Empowerment Arumugan Thondaman has taken measures to upgrade the educational standards of students of the Ratmalana Hindu College who faced hardships of continuing their education due to the lack of a two storey building at the school. The minister has came forward with this initiative which is crucial to the students to develop their knowledge so that they could live with equal rights and dignity among other communities and more..

Army 500 meters from Puthukuduiyirippu

Feb 21 (Island) The Army’s 58 Division yesterday afternoon overran Ampalavanpokkaini on the western banks of the Challai lagoon, 8 km north of Puthukuduiyirippu junction reducing the area occupied by the LTTE had been reduced to less than 85 sq km. The Army said that the troops of 10 Sri Lanka Light Infantry and 6 Gemunu Watch had demolished the Tiger defences and captured the LTTE strongholds. Troops have recovered seven bodies of Tiger cadres along with five T-56 assault rifles. more..

Be grateful to war heroes who helped govt stay in power - JVP

Feb 21 (Island) The Government must be thankful to the war heroes and should not forget that it survives today thanks mainly to them, JVP MP Premasiri Manage told Parliament. He was engaged in a hot debate with Transport Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna yesterday during Oral Questions demanding to know what action the Government could take to provide buses to the ‘Ranaviru Gammanaya’ in Wagawattha, Horana. more..