The Lanka Academic

VOL. 1, NO. 23

Today's Feature

 The Lanka Academic News stories are provided by independent correspondents. Views expressed are not necessarily those of LAcNet. Updates are triggered by events, 24hrs a day. Funding is provided by LAcNet. Redistribution is strictly prohibited. To ensure our continued existence, please support LAcNet.
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President addresses nation

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10 p.m. SLT Friday April 28. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge addressed the nation at 9.30 p.m. today on the country's present security situation.The President, in her 15 minute address on State television did not give any specific details of the military setback at Elephant Pass.Instead she blamed the UNP for the setback suffered by troops at Elephant Pass saying the present government had taken over a weakened army and that the practice of the UNP during its rule was to strengthen the LTTE rather than the army. Kumaratunge further said that her government was forced to take over a weakened army which is the cause for the present military setback. She said it is difficult to put right in five years the damage done in eleven years.

Kumaratunge also condemned sections of the opposition which she said is now trying to gain political advantage by exaggerating the present military situation.

The President asserted that talks with the LTTE will be held only if the rebels lay down arms.

Call for retired service personnel

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.15 p.m. SLT Friday April 28 . In a press release issued today President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge has called out the members of the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Air Force , Sri Lanka Navy, regular reserve on active service with effect from May 1. They are requested to report for duty to the nearest service camp or in case of the army, to their respective regimental centres between May 1 and May 10."

The press release said "They will serve only in low intensity areas. They will be entitled to pay and allowance as per prevailing salary scales."

Officers in the rank of Lt. Col. commander, wing commander and below are eligible. All employers are obliged under the law to release such persons who are employed under them for active service. The employers are expected to grant them duty leave for the period of active service and re-employ them once they are released."

Chandrika - Ranil talks

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.30 p.m. SLT Friday April 28. President Kumaratunge has invited opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe for talks on May 3 to discuss the present security situation. The invitation was issued following a telephone conversation made by UNP Chairman Karu Jayasuriya to the President's office.

LTTE advance on Pallai

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.35 p.m SLT Friday April 28. The LTTE in its noon broadcast today said that its fighting forces have advanced by one and a half kilometeres towards Pallai.

UNDP to pull out de-mining teams in Jaffna

Roy Denish in Colombo, 9.30 p.m. SLT Friday April 28. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced today that it will pull out de-mining teams in Jaffna as a result of the present military thrust by the LTTE in the northern peninsula. The UNDP maintains that it is impossible for the program to continue given the present military situation in the north.

Harsha Gunawardena, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) however maintained that the ICRC will continue to serve the civilian population in and around Jaffna for as long as it remains possible.

All General Reserves called

Roy Denish in Colombo, 9.40 p.m. SLT Friday April 28. The government today issued a call for all General Reserves in the armed forces to report for duty with immediate effect.

Government calls retired servicemen to join the armed forces.

Roy Denish in Colombo, Friday 07.48.. Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunge today called on all service personnel who had left active services after five and 12 years or retired and under the age of 50 years to join the regular armed forces to fight the LTTE, which took control of one of the country's heavily guarded well-entrenched military complexes, the Elephant Pass last week.

A news release from the official arm of the military, the Operational Headquarters said that "HE the President has called out the members of the Sri Lanka army, Navy and Air Force regular reserve on active service with effect from May 1,2000".

Those willing to join the active armed forces were requested to report to the nearest service camp or in the case of the army to their respective regimental centers between May 1 and 10. And the conditions laid down by the respective services for those who should report for duty are as follows.

Service personnel who had left after five years and 12 years service or retired and are under 50 years, service dis-charge certificate and national identity card will have to be produced when reporting for duty, they will serve in low intensity areas, they will be entitled to the pay and allowances as per prevailing salary scales appropriate to their respective ranks at the time of their transfer to the regular reserve and officers in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel? Commander, wing commander and blow are eligible.

The call comes just six days after, the country suffered the worst ever setback in the on going 18 year-old-war, when Tiger rebels attempting to create an independent homeland for minority Tamils took control of Elephant Pass military complex located on the gateway of northern Jaffna peninsula.

President Chandrika Kumaratunge who cut short her visit to European countries arrived in Sri Lanka today and held a series of discussions with her tri-services commanders at her official residence, the Temple Trees. The discussions according to government sources mainly centered on the setback suffered by the armed forces at EP.

The talks were held amid reports that Tigers were marching towards Mugamali, an area located just north of Pallai, army's artillery base on the A9 highway. The Colombo based journalists were not able to verify the current position of the raging battle since communication between Colombo and Jaffna remained crippled after Tigers blasted the government's communication tower at Elephant Pass.

Sri Lankan telecommunication officials said linkage between Colombo and Jaffna will be made through the Mannar exchange within the next few days. Unconfirmed reports reaching Colombo from Vavuniya said that heavy hand-to-hand fighting was raging along the A9 highway, but due to communication break down, the reports could not be verified.

Against the backdrop of fighting, an army Colonel was taken into custody by the sleuths of the country's Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for pilfering drugs from the army hospital.

The un-named official was being grilled to determine as to how many other soldiers and officers were involved in the racket.

Army hospital in need of equipment

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.30 a.m. SLT Friday April 28. The United National Party claims the army hospital is in need of medical equipment amounting to the sum of Rs. 56 million. Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister for Health yesterday donated Rs. 8 million worth of medicine and medical equipment to the military hospital. The UNP alleges that the army hospital now filled with wounded soliders after the Elephant Pass debacle does not appear to have adequate facilities.

Earlier this week medical officers at the military hospital complained that instead of lending priority to only the seriously injured, the military was flying all wounded personnel from the battle areas to the hospital, stretching the limited medical facilities presently available at the Colombo hospital.

Meanwhile a colonel and two other army personnel were taken into custody by the Fort police yesterday on suspicion of stealing drugs from the military hospital in Colombo. The colonel and his colleagues allegedly had connived with a pharmacist and stolen drugs from the military hospital amounting to some Rs. 30,000/=. The colonel is reported to have admitted that the medicines in question was for the treatment of kidney ailments.

A press release from the information department states that Deputy Minister for Defence General Anuruddha Ratwatte at the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday April 26, explained the present setback at Elephant Pass. Gen. Ratwatte is reported to have said that the military effort is being continued under the complete control of the Commanders of the three armed forces backed by appropriate political leadership. He has also stated that adequate arrangements are being made in respect of those who are fighting; the injured and also for funerals of those who have been killed in the battlefield.

Brigadier Palith Fernando, military spokesman meanwhile claims that troops on Wednesday captured an LTTE bunkerline in the Vallimunai are in the Jaffna peninsula. The Brigadier says that 15 rebels were killed as a result and many more wounded. In addition seven soldiers were also killed and 12 wounded. He claims security forces also captured a small weapons haul of the LTTE at this confrontation.

UNP demands that parliament be convened immediately

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 11.50 a.m. SLT Friday April 28 . The United National Party at a meeting held at Siri Kotha today reiterated its demand for the government to convene Parliament immediately to debate the fall of Elephant Pass and the present military situation. If not, the party says it will inform all other party's and convene parliament on May 3rd, at 10 a.m. The UNP early this week too made the same demand but reports maintained opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe was to be asked to reconsider this demand due to the sensivity of the issues surrounding this subject.

MP's call for PSC to investigate links between Information Director and the LTTE

Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2 p.m. SLT Friday April 28. Three Members of Parliament, Ravi Karunanayake, A. H. M. Azwer and Mano Wijeyratne all with the main opposition UNP, will put forward a motion calling for a special Parliamentary Select Committee to probe links between Information Director, Ariya Rubesinghe and the LTTE. The decision was taken today at a meeting convened at the UNP's headquarters 'Siri Kotha.' Mr. Karunanayake told this reporter that "certain undeniable facts now with the UNP make it almost certain that Rubesinghe is supporting the LTTE.'"

Mr. Ariya Rubesinghe could not be contacted as he is out of the country until next Friday.

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