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'Govt. committed to political solution'

Mar 2 (SAMN) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama Sunday refuted allegations that the government has held back the process to carve out a sustainable political solution to the North East issue. He said the government is committed to implement a political solution to solve this issue and a process to arrive at a settlement is going on despite a war on terrorism. “The 13th Amendment is a part of the Constitution and it is in the implementing stage that we are getting into” more..

'Authorities lack proper tools'

Mar 2 (DN) Sri Lanka’s anti-money laundering laws are on par with international law and the only issue is that the compliance officers do not have proper tools and systems to implement them, said SunGard Vice President, Compliance and Financial Crime Solutions Colin Day. He said that money laundering laws cover all financial institutions, not only banks but also bureaus, money transmitters, casinos, insurance, and securities companies. more..

Vocational training for youth

Mar 2 (DN) In a bid to give professional training and ensure a bright future for the younger generation within the Kurunegala Pradeshiya Sabha division who fail to enter the university would be trained in professional skills on the initiative of the Vocational Training Minister Piyasena Gamage. The Chairman, Kurunegala Pradeshiya Sabha has taken immediate steps to launch a vocational and professional training scheme for those youth at the Kurunegala and Matale Vocational training centres. more..

'Hi-tech DL will meet international standards'

Mar 2 (Island) A technologically advanced driving licence scheduled to be introduced for the first time in Sri Lanka would have international recognition. The new license would be made available with effect from 26 of this month. The use of cutting edge technology would eradicate the problem of forgery. For the purpose of providing new licences, the Motor Traffic office in Verahera had been selected and the office premises were being renovated and repaired at present, more..

Samaraweera and Dilshan put SL in command

Mar 2 (CI) Umar Gul picked up a six-wicket haul but Thilan Samaraweera's second double-century of the series and Tillakaratne Dilshan's first ton propelled Sri Lanka to 606 in their first innings in Lahore. Like Samaraweera, Dilshan too was run out and Gul swooped in to end the innings with his reverse-swinging yorkers. He cleaned up Ajantha Mendis first ball before Muttiah Muralitharan and Dilhara Fernando threw their bats around to push Sri Lanka over 600. more..

Pearl of the Indian ocean

I did my job: There were no irregularities

Mar 2 (Island) Former Special Task Force (STF) Commandant Senior DIG Nimal Lewke is in the news over the purchase of four Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) or Buffles, as they are commonly called, for the STF. It has been alleged that there were some irregularities in the procurement process. The Island spoke to Snr. DIG Lewke on the issue. Q: It is alleged that an APC deal you were instrumental in putting through is riddled with irregularities. more..

Govt follows UNP’s ‘Regaining Sri Lanka programme’: JVP

Mar 2 (DM) The JVP which threatened to protest against the proposed ‘Electricity Bill’ in Parliament tomorrow said the government has started to follow the ‘Regaining Sri Lanka programme,’ architected by the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, forgetting the Mahinda Chinthana. JVP MP Anura Kumara Disssanayake told a news conference yesterday that the party would protest against the Bill in the House within a legitimate frame. more..

Security tightened for exposition of Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy

Mar 2 (DM) Security has been tightened in Kandy for the exposition of the Sacred Tooth Relic that will take place from March 6 to 16, Central Province DIG Pujitha Jayasundara said. The police unit as well as the Army detachment attached to the Dalada Maligawa is to be part of the special security arrangement for the exposition. The Army for the convenience of pilgrims will construct a temporary overhead bridge, above the road near the Queen’s Hotel. more..

Sri Lanka's war zone - an insider's testimony

Mar 2 (Telegraph) The humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka deepens daily, with up to 200,000 (the Sri Lankan government says 100,000) civilians trapped in the conflict zone as Sri Lanka's armed forces attempt a final rout of the LTTE in defiance of requests from India and others for a ceasefire. I have referred in the past to the difficulties for aid workers in Sri Lanka, so I wanted to share a communication that I received from a veteran international aid worker who more..

'TNA fails to come up with rescue plans to save innocent Tamils'

Mar 2 (AT) The TNA has failed to come up with any solutions to solve the human tragedy of saving the innocent Tamil civilians trapped in the conflict zone, who are allegedly held as human shield by the LTTE. The TNA is hell-bent on finding ways to rescue the LTTE from being ejected from the country, by urging for a ceasefire rather than coming up with a rescue plan to safeguard the Tamil civilians from the clutches of the Tamil armed group. more..

'Sri Lanka negotiating more forex swaps'

Mar 2 (LBO) Sri Lanka's central bank says it is negotiating two swap agreements with central banks to boost the country's flagging foreign reserves, as interventions continue to pressure the rupee. Sri Lanka's gross official reserves fell to 1,753 million US dollars in December. The latest official data shows that the Central Bank has spent another 251.7 million US dollars on a net basis to intervene in forex markets in January 2009. more..

Seylan Bank reports loss

Mar 2 (LBO) Seylan Bank said it made a loss of 709 million rupees in the December 2008 quarter compared with group net profit of 199 million a year ago with a sharp rise in bad loans and a slowdown in deposits. Total capital adequacy ratio at bank level has slipped to 8.32 percent as at December 31, 2008, below the minimum 10 percent level required. At bank level, total interest income for the December quarter was up just three percent to 5.6 billion rupees, more..

Tamil Nadu govt threatens to slap NSA against Vaiko

Mar 2 (IBN) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Sunday warned that his government will not hesitate to invoke the National Security Act against the MDMK Chief. However, Sources say that MDMK leader Vaiko has been granted bail by a local court in Tirunelveli on Monday. CM's comments comes a day after Vaiko was arrested and remanded to judicial custody for leading a black flag protest against External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee in Tuticorin. more..

Sri Lankan highway opened for traffic after 24 years

Mar 2 (IANS) Sri Lanka's northern highway that links Jaffna peninsula to the rest of the island was opened Monday for military traffic after 24 long years. Two convoys of soldiers - one group going home on leave from Jaffna and the other going to Jaffna after finishing leave - met each other on the way and exchanged greetings on the A-9 Jaffna-Kandy highway. 'Forty lorries carrying troops for Anuradhapura and Jaffna met each other on the way,' more..

LTTE fears colour Sri Lanka president's Nepal visit

Mar 2 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday began his three-day state visit to Nepal amidst an unprecedented four-tier security measure in view of the dreaded Tamil Tigers' well-known capability to carry out assassinations outside the island nation. Traffic was diverted from roads leading to the Tribhuvan International Airport at Kathmandu and over 1,500 personnel from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepal Army have been deployed to ensure the security of more..

War-trapped Civilians

Mar 2 (TOI) As the Sri Lankan Armed Forces (SLAF) attack what is claimed to be the last stronghold of the LTTE in Mullaithivu, a huge humanitarian crisis has built up in the war zone, where 2,50,000 Tamil civilians remain trapped. As the SLAF and the LTTE target them the former through indiscriminate bombing and shelling, and the latter by firing on them to prevent them from fleeing to safety up to 35 civilians are being killed every day. more..

Drugs in Lankan's bank locker

Mar 2 (TOI) Cops on your trail? Searching for a place to hide contraband? Simple, use a bank locker. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials, who were investigating the financial dealings of a drug dealer, on Friday were shocked to find 1.14kg of heroin, instead of cash, in his bank locker. Ashok (42), a Sri Lankan national was arrested in 2002 along with a few others in connection with the seizure of 44kg of heroin at Kakkilapettai in Kancheepuram district. more..

Forces fight off rebel naval attack

Mar 2 (AP) Forces fended off a rebel sea attack on Monday and destroyed two Tamil Tiger boats as fighting raged in the nation's civil war. The military has forced the rebels out of much of their de facto state in the north, boxed them into a small patch of land along the coast and pushed them to the brink of defeat after more than 25 years of warfare. Early Monday, the rebels' small naval wing sent 15 vessels, including four suicide craft into the water under cover of heavy mortar fire to attack Sri Lankan forces, more..

LTTE warns India over displaced Tamils

Mar 2 (Timesnow) The LTTE is not pleased with India's demands for a safe passage of civilians from the trouble-torn region of Sri Lanka. LTTE is clear that the civilians caught in the turmoil must not be uprooted from their land. In an e-mail interview, first to the Indian media since the war intensified, the political head of LTTE - B Nadesan - has warned New Delhi to back-off. Nadesan has called the eviction of people from their homeland 'a monumental blunder'. more..

Photos of Tamil Nadu politicians found in LTTE hideouts

Mar 2 (IANS) The military has found photographs and videos showing politicians from India's Tamil Nadu state in the company of Tamil Tiger leaders in the island's north, it was announced Monday. The defence ministry said soldiers combing abandoned bases of the LTTE discovered the photographs as well as videos of the politicians with LTTE boss Velupillai Prabhakaran. These included MDMK leader Vaiko, a long-time MP and a vocal supporter of the LTTE, and P. Nedumaran, more..

Central bank examining IMF options

Mar 2 (Reuters) Central bank on Monday said it was examining International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing, in an apparent easing of its stance toward the lender of last resort after a sharp fall in foreign currency reserves. Official reserves fell by the end of December 2008 to $1.75 billion, sufficient to finance less than two months of imports, from $3.56 billion at the end of July. "If there is an option that the IMF is saying is on the table that's also something we would look at," more..

Beyond the point of return

Mar 3 (LG) President, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, said: “On behalf of the entire Sri Lankan nation, I make an open invitation to all Sri Lankans — Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Malay and all other communities — who left this country because of the war, to return to your motherland.” Judging by past experience, the February 5 appeal is unlikely to find a positive response among the fugitives, mainly Tamils, from the island’s war-torn north to Tamil Nadu across the Palk Strait. more..

Diaspora Diaries: “I pledge allegiance…”

Mar 3 (LG) Protests and rallies are often carried out to express concern over a variety of issues. More often than not, a protest or rally expresses an opposing opinion to an event or situation. We have seen throughout the years: protests for the sake of peace, protests against wars, protests against governments and laws. There are protests that gain sympathy from the general public; those typically deal with human rights and oppression, like the protests Burma or Tibet. more..

Tamil Tigers' last gasp?

Mar 3 (LG) I was interested to read of the air raid on Colombo, Sri Lanka, last week by the LTTE, a terrorist movement known colloquially as the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers have always been a somewhat enigmatic movement. They've claimed to represent the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, allegedly 'defending' them against the 'oppression' of the Sinhalese majority: but it's been documented on numerous occasions that they've terrorized their own community when more..

Catholics pray for peace during Hindu festival

Mar 3 (UCAN) While Hindus worshipped god Shiva in a night-long vigil recently, Catholics used the occasion pray in their churches for civilians trapped in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka. "We, like Hindus, spent the entire night at the feet of God" to pray for justice and peace, said Father Amirthanathar Francis Xavier Jayasegaram of Jaffna archdiocese's Peace and Justice Commission. more..

Pro-LTTE outfit leader held for defending Rajiv's killing

Mar 3 (PTI) Leader of a pro-LTTE outift was on Monday arrested on the charge of defending the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by the Tigers. Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam leader Kolathur Mani was arrested in Salem for his speech at a public meeting here on February 26, police said. Addressing the meeting, Mani had reportedly stated that "the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was a right action". more..

Calling a spade a spade: Michael Roberts’ ‘moral relativism’

Mar 3 (GV) Dear Sanjana, I am responding to Michael Roberts’ two articles Dilemmas at wars end: Hard realities (article-A) and Dilemmas at wars end: Clarifications and counter offensive (article-B) published on Groundviews, and since about half of article-B was devoted to the counter offensive aimed at Lionel Bopage and me, I do hope you will give this response equal prominence. more..

UPA 'insensitive' to sufferings of SL Tamils: Venkaiah

Mar 3 (PTI) Charging the UPA with being insensitive to the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils, the BJP on Sunday said that the Congress-led Government had not taken even 'a single meaningful step' to persuade the island government to ensure the safety of the Tamil civilians. "The LTTE is not the issue now. The safety, security and welfare of Tamils is important and the Sri Lankan government should pay attention to this," more..

Harrow Tamils meet to discuss Sri Lankan civil war

Mar 3 (HT) A FORMER high ranking US official has called on Harrow Tamils to document their experiences in their home country as he seeks to have Sri Lankan leaders charged with genocide. Bruce Fein, who served in the administration of Ronald Reagan as deputy attorney general, addressed a meeting of the Tamil community this weekend in Harrow. He explained how he and fellow members of action group Tamils Against Genocide are building a case against more..

Congress 'looking' into issue of Vaiko's photo with Prabhakaran

Mar 3 (PTI) Congress today steered clear from the issue of MDMK leader Vaiko's photograph and video with LTTE chief Prabhakaran, found by the Sri Lankan army, saying it will look into the issue. "This is something new...We will look into the issue," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here. Singhvi said the stand of the party remains the same. "It (LTTE) is a proscribed organisation in India. Dealing with it or supporting it remains an offence," he said. more..

Twin double hundreds put Samaraweera among elite

Mar 3 (AFP) Prolific Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera Monday earned a place among cricket's elite by scoring twin double hundreds in back-to-back Tests. The right-hander became the sixth batsmen to achieve the feat, joining Australia's Don Bradman, England's Walter Hammond, South Africa's Graeme Smith, India's Vinod Kambli and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara. Bradman and Hammond managed the double twice. more..

Sri Lanka, rebels battle toward final showdown

Mar 3 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's military on Monday destroyed 10 Tamil Tiger boats that launched an assault on troops battling to further seal the separatist rebels into a rapidly shrinking box of land, the military said. In another tangible sign of progress made by a military campaign that has taken nearly 15,000 square km (5,790 sq miles) back from the rebels in two-and-a-half years, the military opened the main northern highway for the first time in 24 years. more..

'Sri Lankan forces holding back strength'

Mar 3 (Reuters) Advancing Sri Lankan forces are holding back their strength against Tamil Tiger rebels in order to comply with international rules of war, a minister told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday. Mahinda Samarasinghe, minister for disaster management and human rights, accused the LTTE of committing "increasingly brutal acts of terrorism" against people trapped inside a shrinking war zone. more..

In-form Thilan eyes one-day spot

Mar 3 (CI) A little more than a year ago, Thilan Samaraweera was struggling to find a way back into the Sri Lankan Test side. He is now in his best-ever form, with 717 runs in four Tests, and has become a key member of Sri Lanka's middle order. He attributes the dramatic upswing in fortunes to a few technical adjustments he has made. "I've narrowed the stance and with a slightly higher (back) lift, I'm feeling more comfortable," he said. more..

Patients tell of shooting, shelling and trapped relatives

Mar 3 (MSF) As heavy fighting continues in northern Sri Lanka, over 200,000 civilians remain trapped in the conflict in the Vanni region. But, over the past few weeks, some 35,000 people have managed to flee to the city of Vavuniya, 80 km south of the conflict zone. They tell of a beleaguered population living under constant threat of shelling and surrounded by the bodies of the dead and wounded. Food and drinking water are scare, and there is almost no access to medical care. more..

'US troops planning evacuation in Sri Lanka'

Mar 3 (PTI) A Washington-based Sri Lankan non-governmental organisation on Monday claimed the US Pacific Command (PACOM) is planning to lead an evacuation of nearly 200,000 Tamil civilians trapped in the war-torn northern region of the country. "Reports reveal that PACOM is planning to evacuate these civilians and deliver them to the Sri Lankan government – who would then imprison them in concentration-style internment camps," the People for Equality and Relief in Sri Lanka (PEARL), alleged in a statement. more..

'Commonwealth should push Sri Lankan rights'

Mar 3 (ABC) Commonwealth leaders should tell the Sri Lankan government to improve its human rights record when they meet in London this week, says a prominent human rights observer. Carroll Bogert, associate director of the US-based group Human Rights Watch, says innocent Sri Lankan villagers face war from two sides as they flee fighting between the militant Tamil Tigers and the government. more..

'Champions Trophy could be relocated'

Mar 3 (CI) Weather concerns could prompt the ICC to move the Champions Trophy away from Sri Lanka. The tournament, scheduled to be played in October, may be shifted to Australia, South Africa or the United Arab Emirates, according to the ICC's general manager, Dave Richardson. The seventh Champions Trophy was due to be held in Pakistan last year, but was postponed due to security concerns. more..

President begins political consultations

Mar 3 (EK) On a three-day state visit, a team of Sri Lankan officials led by President Mahinda Rejapaksa arrived in Katmandu at 11.30 a.m., Monday. A chartered flight of the Sri Lankan Airline landed the Sri Lankan team at the Tribhuvan International Airport in the morning. President Rajapaksa, who is also accompanied by his wife Shiranthi, was received at the airport by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Upendra Yadav. more..

Atapattu in new role as batting coach

Mar 3 (CI) Marvan Atapattu, the former Sri Lanka captain, has been hired by Cricket Canada as their batting coach till April 19, which marks the end of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers. This is the first time Atapattu, 38, has undertaken the task of coaching a national side. His previous coaching experience has been with the Fingara Cricket Academy, a coaching facility in Sri Lanka, for a couple of months. more..

Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Lebanon presented his credentials

Mar 3 (AT) Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Lebanon Mr. Meer sahib Mahroof presented his credentials to General Michel Suleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon on 13th February at the Presidential Palace. During the brief discussion he had with the President he described the progress and the developments of Sri Lanka’s current situation. Ambassador also conveyed the greetings of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

'Once terrorism ended Govt plans to introduce national integration by embracing the Tamils'

Mar 3 (AT) As the scourge of terrorism fast coming to an end, Sri Lanka leaders are now bent on exploring ways of means of unifying the country. Several measures are being contemplated to bring into the mainstream of politics those Tamils who were under the strangled hold of the LTTE for more than two decades. Dew Gunasekera - Minister For Constitutional Affairs And National Integration said that more..

LTTE in a desperate bid, lost 10 boats in the final showdown

Mar 3 (AT) On Monday (March 2) in the wee hours of the morning, troops of the Sri Lanka Army’s 55 Division noticed by radar at least ten Sea Tiger boats moving from the direction of the 'Safe Zone' southeast of Chalai and alerted all troops along the coastline. As the flotilla drew closer to shore in the darkness, a barrage of artillery burst, and 12.7 mm Machine guns fire was directed on it forcing the Tiger boats to turn away while suffering extensive damages. more..

'RM5.5m collected for Sri Lanka'

Mar 3 (NST) MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu yesterday revealed how funds collected for tsunami victims had been used. Replying to allegations by P. Chitrakala Vasu that the funds had been misused, Samy Vellu said he had taken it upon himself to collect funds from well-wishers under the auspices of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). A total of RM5,595,362.01 was collected. more..

Experts: D.C. ‘fertile ground’ for financing of terrorism

Mar 3 (DCE) Dr. Nagaratnam Ranjithan has spent decades building a thriving medical practice in Maryland as a kidney specialist. Federal authorities say he has also helped finance Asian death squads. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of Ranjithan’s Tamil Foundation, alleging that the money he has raised for Sri Lanka has actually gone to help the Tamil Tigers, a group that the State Department says is a terrorist organization. more..

Sri Lankan 'kidnap' victim held for plan to trick mum

Mar 3 (AN) A mother's love knows no bounds as a woman travelled more than 2,000km from Sri Lanka to save her son who had supposedly been kidnapped here. The mother, in her 50s, brought along RM50,000, the ransom demanded by the kidnappers, for her son's release. Her anxiety, however, turned to disappointment when she found out that the "kidnapping" had been staged by her son. A police source said the 23-year-old son had come to Malaysia with his girlfriend six months ago. more..

Privacy Goes Public in Sri Lanka

Mar 3 (WP) It was just past 10 p.m. when the hulking bus sputtered to a stop at this military checkpoint, 70 miles from the front lines of this country's civil war. The passengers quietly exited the bus and stood behind the razor wire, identification cards in hand. The men split off into one line. A far smaller number of women went into a separate row, some cradling sleeping babies. But it was the women's line that took twice as long to navigate. more..

Tamil Tigers suicide pilots celebrated in Toronto

Mar 3 (NP) A Toronto banquet hall was the scene of a "martyrs' prayer event" held on Monday night in honour of two Tamil Tigers rebels killed during a recent suicide attack in the Sri Lankan capital. RCMP and Toronto police officer showed up with video cameras and filmed as the Tamil Tigers flag was raised and several hundred people laid flowers at a makeshift shrine to the dead guerrillas. Police have been trying to clamp down on pro-Tamil Tigers functions around the city since more..

Sir John Holmes on Sri Lanka