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'No foreign evacuation mission'

Mar 10 (DN) Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said that the Government has not permitted any international forces to evacuate civilians from the Vanni. "Certain reports published regarding the arrival of US marines in Sri Lanka to transport civilians on the invitation of the Sri Lankan Government are baseless and incorrect," the Minister said. He said that the Government has not made any request to more..

Situation report (Mar 10) by SLA

Mar 10 (SLA) MINISTER MAHINDA WIJESEKARA and several parliamentarians were among the seriously injured and rushed to MATARA General Hospital at about 11.00 a.m. today (10) when a suspected suicide bomber of Tamil Tigers stormed an Islamic function organized at GODAPITIYA JUMMA MOSQUE, AKURESSA in connection with MILAD UN NABI, the birthday of the HOLY PROPHET MOHAMMED. The suicide explosion that had injured so many at the time this report was filed more..

The LTTE must release the hostages it has held for so long

Mar 10 (TC) The United Nations Secretary-General did send a representative to Sri Lanka, with the full co-operation of the Sri Lankan Government (letter, Mar 6). Archbishop Tutu and his co-signatories should read his report and add their voice to those demanding that the LTTE releases the hostages it has held for thus long. The Archbishop should note the evidence provided by UN officials of the LTTE firing on civilians in the safe zone, and more..

'Hard work done by Transport Ministry slowly bearing fruit'

Mar 10 (DN) Hard work done by the Transport Ministry to improve the country's transport services and cater to the needs of both the travelling public and the workers is now slowly bearing fruit and the day when train services to Jaffna will be resumed is not far away said Transport Minister Dallas Alahapperuma. The Minister who noted that the President had a keen interest in the development of the railways emphasised that the Government would never sell or privatise the railways. more..

Maestro who touched deepest emotions of people

Mar 10 (DN) After more than a decade his songs still top the charts of present day radio and television programs. Only a few fail to be captivated by the mellow voice which fitted so well into the heartrending melodies he voiced. Eleven years have lapsed since the nation was rocked by the startling news of the sudden death of Milton Mallawarachchi, the virtuoso who touched the deepest emotions of the public through his musical genius. more..

Get tough on Sri Lanka

Mar 10 (OC) Working life is dangerous for journalists in many countries but nowhere is it more precarious than in Sri Lanka. The current Sri Lankan government has no tolerance for criticism and answers those who question its judgment and authority by dispatching thugs to murder, kidnap or disappear offending editors and reporters. It's time for Canada, which pumps tens of millions of dollars each year into this undoubtedly deserving country, more..

Sri Lanka coach fears Commonwealth Games a target

Mar 10 (AFP) Sri Lanka cricket coach Trevor Bayliss voiced fears on Tuesday that extremists would target next year's Commonwealth Games in India and backed criticism of security arrangements in Pakistan. Returning to his homeland for the first time since gunmen opened fire on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore last week, the Australian said the attack that left eight dead had cast a shadow on sport across the subcontinent. more..

Think-tank calls on LTTE to negotiate surrender

Mar 10 (IANS) The humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka's northern Wanni region is rapidly becoming a catastrophe, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned and called on the Tamil rebels to surrender. In a report Monday, the ICG said an estimated 150,000 civilians were trapped in an ever shrinking space, forcibly held back by the LTTE and exposed to indiscriminate attacks by the Sri Lankan military. more..

Sri Lanka to learn Champions Trophy fate next week

Mar 10 (Reuters) The International Cricket Council (ICC) will make a final decision next week on whether the rescheduled Champions Trophy tournament will remain in Sri Lanka. Pakistan was originally due to host the one-day international competition in 2008 but after several teams voiced security concerns about playing there, the ICC reacted by postponing the event before switching venues last month. more..

Suicide bomber attacks Milad Festival

Sri Lanka talking to several countries about currency swaps

Mar 10 (Reuters) Sri Lanka is in talks with several countries about currency swap deals to boost dwindling foreign reserves and is confident an anticipated $1.9 billion loan from the IMF will not carry too harsh conditions, the central bank governor said. Sri Lanka's $32 billion economy has been under pressure because of falling earnings from key exports tea and garments. Its foreign currency reserves have been halved in the second half of 2008 as the central bank defended the rupee. more..

Govt condemns the LTTE suicide bomb attack

Mar 10 (GDI) The Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the LTTE suicide bomb attack on the Milad-un-Nabi Muslim Festival to mark the birthday of Holy Prophet Mohammed, at Godapitiya, Akurassa, Matara this morning around 10.a.m. which 14 persons killed and injured many others including a Government minister. The Government notes with utmost contempt this wanton act of terrorism and observes that the attack bears the unmistakable signature of the LTTE. more..

Controversy surrounds British checks on visas at BIA

Mar 10 (Island) Controversy surrounds Sri Lanka’s decision to authorise foreign embassies to interfere with the Department of Immigration and Emigration operations at the Bandaranaike International Airport. Despite objections by a section of the officials, the government has allowed diplomatic representatives of several countries, including the UK, Germany, Canada and Italy, to check passengers leaving the airport. more..

JVP unions offer free labour with demands; We can do it without them – Dallas

Mar 10 (Island) Railway employees are offering free labor to re-build the Kankasanturai – Vavuniya rail track defunct since 1990. They said that they could rebuild the Matara – Colombo rail track which was completely destroyed by the Tsunami waves in 57 days in 2004. Their only demand is cancellation of the agreement between the RITES company and Sri Lankan government to develop the Southern rail track. more..

'Stabilizing economy on foreign loans dangerous'

Mar 10 (Island) NFF leader MP Wimal Weerawansa yesterday warned the government that it is very dangerous to take loans from international financial institutions to stabilize the Sri Lankan economy. The government should look for another way out. The government has taken a loan of US dollar 1.9 billion from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and another loan of US dollar 750 million is to be taken from more..

Crucial CC case hangs in balance

Mar 10 (DM) The widely publicized fundamental rights application complaining that the Constitutional Council had not been reconstituted since March 2005 hung in the balance after the state insisted that the case could not be maintained over the likelihood of the President being called as a respondent. The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices N.G. Amaratunga and P.A. Ratnayake listed the matter to be taken up May 5. more..

Blake clarifies US policy

Mar 10 (DM) US Ambassador Robert Blake, clarifying the US policy on Sri Lanka, said his government did not advocate the Sri Lankan government negotiating with the LTTE. In response to a Daily Mirror news item appearing yesterday Mr. Blake said the United States did not advocate the Government of Sri Lanka negotiating with the LTTE. He said National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer had articulated in his interview with the Daily Mirror the longstanding policy of the United States that more..

Batti is breathing easier again

Mar 10 (DM) The laying down of arms by the Military Wing of the TMVP (Tamizh Makkal Viduthalai Puligal), the now political group headed by Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan has marked yet another new chapter in the lives of those in Batticaloa. The Batticaloa District which, has been caught between political firing lines in the recent past believes that there is hope for peace yet, but wonders if it would be a lasting one. more..

EPF pension fund to allow early withdrawal

Mar 10 (LBO) Employee's Provident Fund (EPF) which forcibly takes a part of the salary of a private sector worker for 'management' by the state may allow partial withdrawals of balances if new proposals become law. Up to now desperate private workers hit by high inflation created in the country by the central bank and the low comparative yield of the EPF has resorted to using a loophole for housing loans to make de facto withdrawals from their pension fund. more..

Sri Lanka aims to be South Asian shopper paradise

Mar 10 (LBO) Sri Lanka's biggest state bank has proposed a bold project to make the island a Dubai-style duty free shopping mecca for the billion-plus consumers on the Indian sub-continent. Gamini Wickramasinghe, chairman of Bank of Ceylon (BOC), said much revenue can be generated by enticing visitors from the region, exploiting the high frequency of flights connecting Indian cities with Colombo. more..

Sri Lanka: Return of the IMF

Mar 10 (IPS) Sri Lanka is going on bended knee to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - an institution it chased away two years ago - for a bailout package worth 1.9 billion US dollars, as authorities scrape the barrel for foreign exchange. The value of the country’s imports are now much more than its exports and foreign exchange reserves, which have normally averaged over three months worth of imports. more..

Hillary discusses Sri Lanka crisis with Foreign Secretary Menon

Mar 10 (Rediff) The situation in Sri Lanka, where thousands of Tamil civilians are trapped in the LTTE's strongholds, permeated the 45-minute discussion on Monday between United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. This was the first high-level interaction between India and the Obama administration in Washington. more..

Suicide blast kills 10, wounds minister

Mar 10 (AP) A suicide bomber attacked a gathering of Muslims celebrating a religious holiday in southern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, killing 10 people and critically wounding a government minister. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but officials quickly blamed ethnic Tamil rebels. The bomber appeared to have targeted six ministers as they walked in a procession toward a mosque in the town of Akuressa to celebrate Mawlid, which commemorates the prophet Mohammed's birthday. more..

Fifteen dead, minister hurt in suicide attack

Mar 10 (AFP) At least 15 people were killed and another 60, including a government minister, wounded on Tuesday in a suicide bombing in southern Sri Lanka blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said. The attacker targeted politicians attending a function at a mosque in the town of Akuressa, and came as the ethnic rebels continue to lose ground in the face of a fierce government offensive on their shrinking northeast base. more..

Provident fund managers say all's well

Mar 11 (LBO) Managers of state-run pension fund of private sector workers, under fire for investing funds for state purposes as a 'captive' source, has said the fund is operating well. In an interview, officials managing the EPF denied all suggestions of impropriety, conflict of interest, or coming under pressure to bid below weighted average yields at auctions. It was also revealed that the Fund's governing law only requires 2.5 percent interest a year to be paid, more..

Unending End Game

Mar 11 (GV) The end game is not ending. It is being drawn out with an ever increasing toll to the lives and suffering of the civilian population estimated by the UN and the international agencies to be 200,000 and by the Government at 70,000. According to Sir John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Relief Coordinator who recently visited Sri Lanka, in his statement to the UN Security Council on February 27, more..

Sri Lanka bombing brings new fear

Mar 11 (BBC) The deaths of at least 14 people in a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomb attack in southern Sri Lanka has raised fears that a new and bloody era is beginning in the Sri Lankan war. With the rebels losing significant chunks of territory in recent weeks, some predict that the war will now be characterised by similar attacks all over the country - with government ministers, army personnel, police and Sinhalese civilians all likely targets. more..

Military Victories

Mar 11 (LG) The current spate of brilliant military victories leaves one wondering why the Sri Lankan Security Forces could not explode the myth of Tamil Militant invincibility before? Why did it have to take over two and a half decades of conflict, which was only instrumental in denuding our manpower and financial resources to the extent that it has, up until now? At the cost of development, peace and innumerable lives of innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire in the conflict zone, more..

'A maniac and a thief close to the leader demolishing the UNP'

Mar 11 (LeN) UNP National Organizer S. B. Disanayaka says that close associates of the party leader are destroying the party. He named one person as a maniac who earned millions from quotas and another as a person who swindled millions during the UNP government was in power. They, together with several more in higher party positions, are contracted by the government to destroy the party. more..

Army suffers temporary setback

Mar 11 (DW) The Army suffered a setback last weekend when around 600 hardcore LTTE cadres infiltrated the FDL of the Army's 58 Division from the general area Puthukudirippu North. A group of around 200 cadres who attempted to flank the 55 and 58 were massacred by 3 Special Forces and 2 Commandos after the 55 Division spotted them early on. Although Military Intelligence had warned of a possible infiltration, the 58 Division had not taken the warning seriously. more..

Army special forces and Navy overcoming LTTE’s threat

Mar 11 (AT) If you want to defeat a terrorist organization, talk in a language they understand as done by the Sri Lankan government. In civility, it is difficult and seems "war time excess" or even described as violations of "human rights," however, scores of innocents daily killed by suicide attacks may not come within the purview of "human rights," according to these experts. But desperate times call for desperate measures. more..

ICC asks India, UN, US to act 'now', tells Colombo to 'hold off final assault'

Mar 11 (AT) The humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka’s northern Wanni region is rapidly becoming a catastrophe, International Crisis Group has warned. The Brussels based independent group has asked the International leaders, in particular, the UN Secretary-General, the Prime Minister of India and the President of the United States to act ‘now’. And ask Sri Lanka government to ‘abandon its policy of annihilation’ and more..

Lahore attack and its impact on Sri Lanka

Mar 11 (BL) Sri Lanka does not want to rule out the involvement of the LTTE in the March 3 Lahore attack on its cricketers and Pakistani circles are reluctant to rule out the role of Indian external intelligence organisation Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Whoever did it, it is clear the daring attack and swift get away by a dozen well armed youths had changed the South Asian security situation, particularly that of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. more..

JVP refuses to support power devolution based on 13th Amendment

Mar 11 (BL) Throwing a fresh spanner in the works the JVP yesterday refused to support the power division package based on the 13th Amendment currently being drafted by the government to be implemented in the north insisting that it would divide rather than unite the people. JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told the media that the government had no clear vision of what to do with the newly liberated North and more..

President urged to come up with post-war economic growth plan

Mar 11 (BL) Concerned with the impact of global and local shocks, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been urged by the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) to come up with a credible and comprehensive post-war economic growth and prosperity strategy. The recommendation from TISL whilst acknowledging and commending President Rajapaksa for his leadership, in undertaking the daunting task of delivering more..

Many killed in Sri Lanka bombing

Sri Lanka is vulnerable rates :IMF

Mar 11 (BL) Whilst Central Bank appears to have finally woken up from its alleged “Alice in the Wonderland” mindset, Sri Lanka has been listed by the IMF among countries which are vulnerable by the deepening global economic crisis. The assessment is contained in the IMF’s latest study on low income countries. Whilst the Government has finally agreed to seek IMF assistance to the tune of US$ 2 billion, the multilateral donor in its study has found that more..

London kills me

Mar 11 (TC) A few years ago Hanif Kureishi made a film with the above title. It was not a success, unlike his two previous films which were sharpéy critical of Asian communities in Britain. The third film may not have been so good, but it also struck me at the time that perhaps the British establishment was not quite so happy about the English being at the butt end of criticism – at least by an Asian, though a British director might have got away with it. more..

Are we being encircled globally just as we have encircled Tigers locally?

Mar 11 (TC) The Sinhalese and Tamils are in a Mexican standoff. Locally, the Sri Lankan armed forces have surrounded the Tigers who have embedded themselves among the civilians (some of whom are the Tigers’ extended families and trained “Makkal Padai” militia, as well as those who chose to follow the Tigers as they evacuated Jaffna in 1995, all constituting the LTTE’s social support base or the Tiger tribe). more..

Increasing violence by Armed actors against women of North and East

Mar 11 (TC) As the world is celebrating international women’s day 2009 on the theme "Women and men united to end violence against women and girls", we the undersigned civil society organisations from Sri Lanka wish to highlight and express our deep concern at the increasing vulnerability of women, especially those living in the conflict affected areas to violence and brutality in the context of the ongoing conflict between the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the LTTE, more..

French intervention sought to end war in Sri Lanka

Mar 11 (Hindu) A delegation from Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement on Tuesday met Consul-General of France in Puducherry Joelle Rayet and submitted a memorandum seeking French government’s intervention to stop the war in Sri Lanka. Briefing reporters on their meeting with the Consul-General, general secretary of MDMK Vaiko said that the delegation apprised her of the “atrocities committed on” the Tamils living in Sri Lanka. more..

The Anti-conversion Bill: Intended cure worse than the perceived sickness!

Mar 11 (TC) Conversion from one religion to another is nothing new, since all the major religions came here from outside. There have been religious conversions in Sri Lanka from ancient times. All the major religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity) have had at least their early native adherents as a result of some such religious conversion. more..

Employers ask for an extra working hour

Mar 11 (LT) The Employers Federation of Ceylon has asked the government to give authority to employers to make the 5 ½ working week a five day week and increase the working hours by one hour per day. They have also asked permission from the government to lay off employees temporarily. The reason for both these requests is to prevent industries from breaking down due to dwindling export orders as a result of the global financial crisis. more..

Investigations commence on false propaganda of TNA MPs

Mar 11 (LT) The government has commenced investigations into a secret, erroneous report sent to international community by five TNA Parliamentarians stating that Sri Lankan Security Forces murder forty Tamil civilians daily. It has been revealed that the treacherous report had been sent by TNA Parliamentarians Sambanthan, Mavei Senathiraja, Suresh Premachandran, Gajendra Kumar Ponnambalam and Selvam Adeikalananthan. more..

'Release all vehicles requested by Commissioner of Elections'

Mar 11 (LT) Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga has asked all heads of ministries, departments and corporations to release all vehicles requested by the Commissioner of Elections for election duty. A large number of vehicles would be needed for election duty and the Commissioner of Elections has decided to use only state vehicles for the purpose said an official from the Election Secretariat. more..

Knowing folly

Mar 11 (TN) The pleading tone of the US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert Blake, even in selling what is already existing or is in proposal, last Friday, show the mood of Sinhala chauvinism in the South, living in the euphoria of ‘victory’ and delusions of ‘post-LTTE’ politics, writes Opinion Columnist Chivanadi. “A striking note of the ambassador’s speech was the importance he gave to the electoral process in ending the conflict.” more..

Measures to pay compensation to victims at Akuressa bomb attack

Mar 11 (LP) Minister of Resettlement and Disaster relief Services Rishad Bathudeen said that government has taken speedy measures to pay compensation to the victims who were injured and killed due to an LTTE suicide bomb attack on the Milad-un-Nabi Muslim Festival at Godapitiya, Akuressa, Matara. Accordingly, Rs. 15000 will be paid towards funeral expenses while more..

New security system all over the Country

Mar 11 (GDI) The Government is to implement a new security system in the south following the suicide attack in Akuressa which left Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mahinda Wijesekara severely injured, sources said yesterday. Political sources stated that there had been security lapses on the part of the police officials who were on duty at the scene. “The entry of vehicles to the site where the function was held, had been barred for some time. more..

'North will soon be developed into a major agricultural region'

Mar 11 (GDI) Under ‘Negenahira Navodaya,’ a project initiated by Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, another 132,000 hectares of land have already been irrigated. It is expected to harvest 800,000 metric tons of paddies than the last season. Beyond doubt, this will transform the North into a major agricultural region in the near future, Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardhana revealed more..

SAARC Education Ministers to meet in Colombo

Mar 11 (GDI) The Higher Education Ministers Conference of the SAARC will be held at Hotel Hilton, Colombo, on March 26and 27, 2009. The Ministries of Higher Education and Foreign Affairs are coordinating the preliminary work of this conference on the advice and direction of the SAARC Secretariat based in Kathmandu, Nepal, a media release issued by Higher Education Ministry said on Monday. more..