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Sri Lanka forces advance into shrinking rebel area

Jan 30 (AP) Sri Lankan forces captured several jungle bases from Tamil Tiger rebels including a bunker complex with a luxury room, advancing deeper into the rapidly shrinking territory under the insurgents' control, the military said Thursday. A string of government victories in recent weeks has opened up the possibility of a clear military solution to the 25-year-old civil war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives more..

Croydon mum starves herself over Sri Lankan war

Jan 30 (CG) A Sri Lankan mum has gone on a hunger strike over the war raging in her home country. Kanga Atphuthasigamani, 47 from Croydon, began her part in a staggered hunger strike last night at Parliament Square in Westminster. The staggered fast runs from January 19 to February 4 and those taking part include young, old, businessmen, students and the retired. “We request every single Tamil person to come and support to raise our voice toward the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown MP. more..

‘We must love all Tamils the way we love Muralitharan’

Jan 30 (TC) Muttiah Muralitharan claimed his 500th ODI wicket, just two less than Wasim Akram. The whole of Pakistan and those in the Gaddafi Stadium cheered loud when Muralitharan achieved the feat of being the second bowler in the world to have grabbed 500 ODI wickets. All over Pakistan photographs of a smiling Muralitharan were published and someone even asked him whether he would be going for the 600th wicket. more..

Winning the war and losing the future for the Sinhala South

Jan 30 (TC) It's all now a talk of living in a country free of "terrorism". The Separatist Tigers are almost eliminated. Driven to the forests of Mullaitivu and restricted to lick their wounds, till they are completely annihilated as promised by the Defence head. Ruthless and merciless as no other armed organization on this planet earth, the LTTE had to be cornered, tamed and eliminated politically, long before. more..

The reality of hedging drama

Jan 30 (LR) After plenty of politico-media fire works, the hedging drama is now over. Despite all the hustle and bustle, has this ultimately benefited the common people of Sri Lanka? Simple answer is ‘No’. Then, who has won it for the day? Firstly, those international banks that are supposed to get undue profits in the hedging deal have guaranteed their share of money and common tax payer’s money is at risk. more..

Christians protest anti-conversion bill

Jan 30 (UCAN) An estimated 4,000 members of evangelical churches in and around the capital rallied recently to protest a bill against religious conversion. The Prohibition of Forcible Conversion Bill will be debated and voted on in parliament sometime in February, local media recently reported. Evangelical protesters gathered for five hours on Jan. 26 at Vihara Maha Devi Park in central Colombo. They prayed and sang hymns using amplifiers, and listened to speeches by their leaders. more..

Rajapaksa gives LTTE 48 hours to release civilians

Jan 30 (PTI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa tonight gave a 48-hour ultimatum to LTTE to release the civilians believed to have been kept by the Tamil Tigers as human shields in the embattled north. "It is unfortunate that the LTTE is exploiting this declared safe zone for civilians by placing their heavy artillery within the safe zone and using it as a launching pad to attack Security Forces and indiscriminately kill civilians," more..

Canada 'deeply concerned' by Sri Lanka unrest

Jan 30 (AFP) The government is "deeply concerned" by the ongoing unrest in northeast Sri Lanka, where Sri Lanka troops and Tamil rebels are locked in a fierce conflict, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said. "Recent developments underline the urgent need for progress toward a meaningful and durable political solution," said Cannon. After months of intense battles, government security forces have cornered the LTTE rebels, and according to the ICRC a major humanitarian crisis is unfolding. more..

Where have all the people gone?

Jan 30 (Economist) Once so teeming that Tamil Tiger rebels deployed “traffic police” at its junctions, Kilinochchi is today a desolate, shell-shocked town of headless buildings and crumbling walls. During a tightly controlled tour on January 24th, the army escorted journalists through vast swathes of northern territory—including Pooneryn, Paranthan and Elephant Pass—recently wrested from the LTTE. more..

Civil Society Organisations deeply concerned by situation in the Vanni

Jan 30 (FI) As civil society organizations that have consistently highlighted the intensifying humanitarian crisis in the north of Sri Lanka and that are deeply concerned about the immense civilian suffering, we once again appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE and the international community to take immediate steps to respond effectively to the unfolding catastrophe. more..

TN Students protest on Sri Lanka issue

Jan 30 (Hindu) Students of Periyar Government Arts College here observed a fast in two batches on Thursday. One group observed the fast inside the campus and another in front of the Collectorate. The students voiced concern over the killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka and called for the immediate intervention of the Union government to save the lives of the innocent. They urged the Union government to heed the voice of the students all over Tamil Nadu, more..

Tamil Nadu satisfied with Pranab’s talks in Sri Lanka

Jan 30 (Hindu) The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government on Thursday defended External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for having “appropriately discussed” the Sri Lankan Tamils issue with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Articulating the government’s position during zero hour in the Assembly, K. Anbazhagan, Finance Minister and Leader of the House, said politicians, while explaining the stand of their parties, could speak as they liked. more..

'DMK neither against nor in favour of LTTE'

Jan 30 (Hindu) The DMK is neither against nor in favour of the LTTE. The party is only worried about the safety of Tamils in Sri Lanka, said Finance Minister and leader of the House K. Anbazhagan in the Assembly on Thursday. Intervening during a discussion on the Governor’s address in the House, the Minister said people in the State had no two opinions on protecting Tamils in Sri Lanka and safeguarding their interests. more..

Sri Lanka focuses on Mideast

Jan 30 (Gulf) Despite the ongoing conflict in the country's northeast, Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister of Tourism Faiszer Musthapha has big hopes for developing Sri Lanka as a major tourist destination. The Middle East region has been identified as one of the key source markets by the Sri Lankan government. As part of a tourism promotion initiative, Musthapha was in Dubai recently to attend a conclave of Sri Lankan diplomats based in the region. They discussed strategies for attracting more Arab tourists. more..

UNICEF clarifies vehicle recovered from LTTE does not belongs to them

Jan 30 (AT) UNICEF in a statement said yesterday that "a Toyota double cab" which the Army says it has seized from the LTTE does not belong to UNICEF. The statement claims that "An Army website had erroneously claimed the vehicle belonged to UNICEF." The press statement went on to clarify, "UNICEF does not have any double cabs in its fleet. However in the past years UNICEF has donated a large number of this type of vehicle to Government partners more..

Medicine sent to un-cleared areas: Health Secretary

Jan 30 (RW) Secretary to the Health Ministry Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage yesterday said that he is in touch with the regional Directors of Health of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu on a daily basis and necessary medical supplies to un-cleared areas had been sent but the stocks to Mullaitivu are awaiting road clearance to proceed. "As Secretary of Healthcare and Nutrition, I feel it is my duty to share with you the following. more..

Tamil rebels without the wherewithal

Jan 30 (BBC) As the Sri Lankan army advances against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north, it says it is inflicting a devastating blow against their capacity to continue fighting on land, sea and air. In addition to making significant territorial gains in recent weeks, the army says it has killed or captured hundreds of rebel soldiers. But it also says it has seized much of the hardware which over the past two decades made the rebels one of the world's most feared - and most ingenious - insurgent groups. more..

Pakistan, China role limits Indian influence in Sri Lanka

Jan 30 (DT) After decades of strong-arming tiny neighbour Sri Lanka, India finds itself jostling for influence, as its power has blunted by the island nation’s growing ties with Pakistan and China, with the civil war nearing an end. While domestic political sensitivities over the fate of Sri Lanka’s Tamils forced India to ease its leverage, China and Pakistan stepped into the breach, offering Colombo military assistance in its war against the Tamil Tiger rebels. more..

Frustrated Lankan youth eye foreign shores

Jan 30 (AA) The Sri Lankan Army’s offensive has squeezed the separatist LTTE forces back into the northern tip of the country, but the recent spurt in violence has come at a heavy price. For a nation whose economy has historically been dependent on tourism, the recent incidents have been a death knell for hoteliers and tour operators. Tourist arrivals in the country have dropped by 10 per cent in recent times and are sliding further, according to a government estimate. more..

Sri Lanka cement firm eyes rebuilding demand after war

Jan 30 (LBO) Lanka Cement, a Sri Lankan state-owned firm listed on the Colombo bourse, has increased cement sales with imports from Pakistan and shipments to the island's war-torn north. Company officials said its trading activity which was resumed in the latter half of last year has turned profitable and future prospects looked good given a revival in construction activity if an internal war ends soon. more..

President meets financial firm chiefs

Jan 30 (LBO) President Mahinda Rajapaksa had met the heads of banks, finance and leasing companies to discuss recent turmoil and future direction, the president's office said. Representatives of state and private banks, the Central Bank and Treasury were also in the meeting, held Thursday. The meeting discussed the steps take to re-build confidence following the collapse of several unregulated firms that had taken deposits, an official said. more..

India lauds Sri Lanka's safe passage offer to Tamil civilians

Jan 30 (IANS) India Thursday lauded the Sri Lankan government's announcement of granting a safe passage to Tamil civilians trapped in the war-hit northern parts of the island nation and hoped that the conditions of civilians will improve in days to come. 'The government of India welcomes this important announcement and hopes that with the implementation of these steps, the condition of the civilians caught up in the conflict, will improve,' more..

Power devolution package and uncertainty regarding ‘unitary status’ in APRC report

Jan 30 (LT) The proposals formulated by APRC as a solution for the national question in Sri Lanka includes a power devolution formula, a proposal to abolish the executive presidential system, abolition of the concurrent list to introduce two lists outlining powers to be vested in the provincial councils and the central government and consideration of a separate unit for Muslims in the Eastern Province. more..

'Praises by Opposition leader on military victories need not be taken seriously'

Jan 30 (LT) The Leader of the Opposition who had been vehemently criticizing the Security Forces and military victories has suddenly started praising the forces and victories achieved by them as if he has suddenly woken from a slumber said cabinet spokesman Minister Anura Priyadharshan Yapa adding that praises from the Leader of the Opposition need not be taken seriously. more..

'Escalating fuel prices an obstacle for economic development'

Jan 30 (LT) The daily escalating fuel prices not only creates a power and energy crisis but is a threat to the economic development said Minister of Power and Energy W.D.J. Seneviratne. He said this at the summit of ministers of power of SAARC countries held at Hilton Hotel yesterday. He said the price of power and energy has reached crisis stage and the attention of the whole world has been drawn to it. more..

Changes in Sabaragamuwa and Eastern University

Jan 30 (LP) The memorandum produced by the Minister of Higher Education Vishwa Warnapala, to put up a building complex for the Faculty of Physical Science of the Sabaragamuwa University was approved by the Cabinet. The estimated cost for the construction of the building complex is Rs 296 million and accordingly the Samaragamuwa University’s Faculty of Physical Science in Buththala will be shifted Pambahinna in Belihuloya. more..

Sri Lanka’s first disaster alert system launched today

Jan 30 (LP) The new network to inform the public about disasters was launched by the Disaster Management Centre in Sri Lanka today (30) at BMICH. The Disaster Management Centre will inform the relevant district Disaster Management Centers and the relevant districts which will be affected by the disaster. The network system will be set up in the populated areas. The system will release a signal indicating the disaster while a prior notice will be given. more..

German Sri Lanka Football Complex opens today

Jan 30 (GDI) The opening ceremony of the German Sri Lanka Football Complex in Uyanwatta, Matara will take place today with the participation of the chief guest, the sports minister Gamini Lokuge at 3.30 pm. The complex was donated by the German National Football team (2004) as their Tsunami response to Sri Lanka and the project value Rs. 38 million. The complex includes auditorium, gymnasium, lodging facilities and more..

ETF interest rate increased up to 12%

Jan 30 (LP) The interest rate for the Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) will be increased up to 12% this year. The interest rate was 10.5% earlier. ETF deposits worth Rs. 89 billion is invested in treasury bills and treasury savings and is safe, ETF chairman K.H.A. Godawatta said last Wednesday (28th). At present ETF consists of 2.2 million employees and 60,000 employers.

Rs. 100 mn building donated to Homagama Base Hospital by foundation

Jan 30 (GDI) A new Rs. 100 million three storied building was donated to the Homagama Base Hospital to house its OPD, clinics and diagnostics. The building was donated by the Chairman of the Bamunu Arachchi Foundation, B. A. Mahipala recently. Its inauguration is scheduled for February 16. The building consists of an examination room, injection room, wound dressing rooms, various clinics, laboratory facilities, ECG, endoscopy, radiology, dispensary and offices for the DMO and consultants. more..

Germany donates emergency food to the North

Jan 30 (GDI) The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has decided to grant funds amounting to Rs. 300 million towards urgent food deliveries for the benefit of these people and this would be carried out by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). "High prices of food, continuing displacements and a critically precarious nutritional-deficiency situation make it urgent that we render assistance to the people in the North of Sri Lanka in their difficult situation,"

Journalists flee Sri Lanka amid violent attacks and government threats

Jan 30 (wsws) Just two weeks after the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the editor of the Sunday Leader, another Sri Lankan editor has been stabbed and beaten by a gang. The incident came amid further warning signs that the government and the military are seeking to intimidate the media as part of a wholesale attack on democratic rights. more..

The naďveté of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva

Jan 30 (PISL) SCOPP Secretary General Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha has replied to a statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva yesterday. His remarks are carried in full below. The Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights regrets a recent statement made in Geneva by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which fails to note current ground realities in Sri Lanka. more..

Is he gone or still around?

Jan 30 (LNP) In 2002, giving a press conference in Kilinochchi, the late LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham with arrogance oozing from every pore pompously declared that Prabhakaran was both the Prime Minister and President of that part of the country, which the Norwegian crafted CFA recognised as being under LTTE control. And Prabhakaran reigned supreme with foreign backing thanks to the shameful servility of the UNF regime and the UPFA government under President Kumaratunga. more..

Hedging deals: JVP to go to courts

Jan 30 (SAMN) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Thursday vowed to take legal action against high ranking government officials who had allegedly benefited underhand from the controversial oil hedging deals. JVP Parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake claimed powerful people in the government had received commissions in the hedging deal and that led to the rejection of the Supreme Court ruling. more..

Troops find 152 mm artillery piece

Jan 30 (SAMN) Wednesday’s recovery of a 152 mm artillery piece by 58 Division troops conducting clearing operations in the Vishvamadu area would help Sri Lanka to identify one of the major suppliers of armaments to the LTTE. An authoritative military official said the artillery piece, the first recovered by the army on the Vanni front was likely to be of Chinese or East European origin. It was found by the 10 GR (Gajaba Regiment) commanded by Major Janaka Udaovita, the army said. more..

HM says no shortage of medical supplies

Jan 30 (SAMN) The government Thursday claimed there was no shortage of medicines and food in Mullaitivu. Nor had large numbers of civilians been injured or killed, as alleged by some people in the region. Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, said that the "required quota" of medicine and food supplies are dispatched to the uncleared areas on a regular basis and there was no truth in the allegations being made. more..

SLFEB goes job hunting in Libya

Jan 30 (SAMN) A delegation from the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau will visit Libya in mid-February to assess the availability of job opportunities for Sri Lankans in the health and hospitality sector. Chairman of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, Kingsly Ranawaka said the two countries had signed an MoU on employment last year. "The superior health conditions in Sri Lanka had made them eager to employ our health sector workers and there are several vacancies available for them," he said. more..

Indo-Sri Lanka power transmission on way

Jan 30 (LNP) The Government is in the process of formation of a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) power transmission line between India and Sri Lanka to ensure a secure and sustainable energy supply to meet the energy needs at reasonable prices. Minister of Power and Energy W.D.J. Seneviratne said that the necessary ground work has already been completed to commence a feasibility study in this connection. more..

Situation report (Jan 30th) by SLA

Jan 30 (SLA) Valiant Troops Continue to Find Tiger Constructions & Vehicles: MULLAITTIVU & EAST: TASK FORCE – II and Task Force – III troops, operating in UDAYARKTTUKULAM and VISUAMADU areas where massive LTTE constructions, heavy vehicles and many other military items manufacturing factories were found, continued to recover more and more items during search and clear operations conducted on Thursday (29). more..

Sri Lanka Navy destroys LTTE suicide boat - Mullaittivu

Jan 30 (MoD) Sri Lanka Navy attack boats deployed in the Mullaittivu seas have destroyed an LTTE suicide boat around 3 this morning (Jan 30). According to the navy sources , the navy boats deployed in the sea blockade along the northeastern coast have intercepted the explosive laden boat launched from Mullaittivu coast and destroyed it by directing heavy gunfire at the incoming terrorist boat. more..

Army 58 Division gain more ground; LTTE hold continue to recede in Wanni

Jan 30 (MoD) Sri Lanka Army 58 Division soldiers thrusting into the remaining LTTE hiding areas stretching from the south of Kilaly lagoon to the A-35 road (Paranthan- Mullaittivu) are making a rapid progress on their march along the west - east axis, reveal battlefield sources. Battlefield reports indicate that intense fighting had been taken place in Visuamadu and Piliyampokkanal areas yesterday (Jan 29). more..

Rotary completes third tank rehabilitation

Jan 30 (DN) Forty farming families of a remote, inaccessible hamlet called Pattiyawela near Horowpathana in the Anuradhapura district were the beneficiaries of a Rotary funded project to rehabilitate the irrigation tank providing essential water for farming. Farmers in this area are deprived of rain water for most of the year and they are dependent on the reservoirs during drought season. more..

MIA says Tamil Civilian and Tamil Tiger are like a square and a circle

Jan 30 (TC) Oscar and Grammy award nominated singer Maya "MIA" Arulpragasam interviewed by Tavis Smiley of PBS: Tavis: M.I.A. is a talented singer-songwriter and hip-hop artist who has the rare honor of being nominated -- get this -- for an Oscar and a Grammy in the same year. She's featured on the soundtrack of one of the year's biggest films, "Slumdog Millionaire," and more..

‘Investor interest will improve if ‘war risk’ label is removed’

Jan 30 (DN) Investor interest will improve gradually in Sri Lanka if the “war risk” label is removed. If other countries remove the risk premium to the levels of Thailand, Indonesia and India it will help Sri Lanka to attract more investors, said Managing Director Ceylon Asset Management Dulindra Fernando. “Despite a continued “terrorism risk” many analysts also expect Sri Lankan legislators to enact a power sharing proposal offering extensive devolution to the provinces during the year. more..

Police to get tough with bogus complainants

Jan 30 (Island) The Police Elections Secretariat said yesterday that instructions had been issued to all police stations in the Central and Wayamba provinces to take stern action against candidates and their supporters who lodge false election related complaints with the Police. False complaints are lodged in an attempt to get special favours. Some candidates lodge false complaints against the party opposing them to get the sympathy of voters, more..

CCB probe threats to Fowzie, son

Jan 30 (Island) The Colombo Crime Bureau yesterday informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate that investigations are being conducted into the threatening telephone calls received by Petroleum Resources Minister A. H. M. Fowzie and his son Nauser. The Magistrate was informed by the CCB that investigations were launched following a complaint made by the Minister and his son to the Colombo DIG. more..

APRC offers devolution formula

Jan 30 (DM) The APRC has now finalized its report recommending a power devolution formula which includes a proposal to abolish the executive presidential system. The committee has wrapped up its deliberations after 104 sessions despite the 12 political parties representing it failing to reach consensus on certain issues with regard to power devolution. The copies of the report have now been handed over to the political party representatives for their perusal. more..

Interim order against defendants

Jan 30 (DM) The Colombo District Court yesterday issued an interim order on Chief Organiser of the Organisation for the Protection of National Resources (PNR) restraining him from holding press conferences, meetings and issuing statements against Diyawadana Nilame of Dalada Maligawa Kandy. The Court made this order on B. U. Dias Hengamuwa following a civil suit filed by Diyawadana Nilame, Pradeep Nilanga Dela Bandara. more..

Govt urged to let press visit north freely

Jan 30 (RSF) Reporters Without Borders formally appeals to President Mahindra Rajapaksa to allow Sri Lankan and foreign journalists to visit the north of the country freely. It also calls for an end to the harassment and attacks on news media that refuse to support the government and a military solution. “Like the Israeli army in Gaza, the authorities in Colombo have decided to prevent media and humanitarian organisations from working freely,” more..