The Lanka Academic

MAY 18, 2000 EST, USA
VOL. 1, NO. 43

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Anil's Ghost: Ondaatje's new novel worth the wait
ANNE-MARIE TOBIN, Associated Press. TORONTO (CP) -- Michael Ondaatje left Sri Lanka as a schoolboy and settled in Canada almost 40 years ago, but his new novel Anil's Ghost conveys an ache for the people of his troubled homeland. More...
Is Eelam Inevitable? A commentry By Lasantha Wickrematunga
Outlook. With a general election due in just five months, this situation could not have been worse timed for Kumaratunga. With characteristic impetuosity, under the guise of putting the country on a war footing, she imposed stringent media censorship and draconian regulations to prevent political activity and criticism of her or her government. There is little doubt in the public mind, however, that the regulations are focused entirely at propping up her failing popularity and hiding the bitter truth from the Sri Lankan people. More..
Published: Thu May 18 23:50:12 EDT 2000

'Eelam won't harm India' A London-based LTTE spokesman speaks to Outlook
Outlook. Even as it gains militarily, the LTTE isn't willing to spell out its post-military agenda. While refusing to give a formal interview, a senior LTTE functionary in London spoke to Outlook about India's role:"The battle has reached a crucial stage. The Norwegian intervention has brought hope. This has also helped lend credibility to the LTTE. We're hoping India will recognise the legitimacy of our struggle. More..
Published: Thu May 18 23:50:07 EDT 2000

Arms yes, men no A cagey Islamabad is only prepared to go thus far
Outlook. It's certainly not the best way for two states to come together, but for decades Pakistan and Sri Lanka seem to have worked on the "your enemy is my enemy" principle. But despite this rather strange confluence of interests and Pakistan's highlighting of the anti-India sentiments prevailing on the emerald island, recent events in Sri Lanka have evoked little public interest.Many observers here see the present threat to Colombo as being the result of continued Indian assistance to the LTTE. Says former defence secretary, Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood, "This assistance is the backbone of the LTTE. But Colombo's mismanagement has also played a role in the rebel gains." More..
Published: Thu May 18 23:50:03 EDT 2000

Sanctuary Denied The compulsion of being a part of the NDA forces the pro-Eelam DMK to turn back refugees
Outlook, May 22, 2000. Contingencies of national politics have conspired to force the DMK, a Dravidian party, to take a position that contradicts and completely undermines its long-held and much-cherished pro-Eelam stance. "The DMK is now seen by Tamil groups as a pro-Delhi party which has reneged on its commitment to Eelam. More..
Published: Thu May 18 23:49:57 EDT 2000

Tamil gangs on rise: RCMP Blamed for 40 shootings
National Post, May18. The police brief says an estimated 155,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and "as these communities have grown, Tamil criminal elements have also taken root."Tamil criminal groups are involved in ... extortion, home invasion, thefts, sales of contraband cigarettes, the importation and trafficking of brown heroin, trafficking of other drugs, arms trafficking, fraud, production and sale of counterfeit passports, illegal migrant smuggling and attempted murders, bank and casino frauds and money laundering. More.. l
Published: Thu May 18 23:49:49 EDT 2000

Page One News LTTE enters Jaffna town, Lanka defence chief returns after secret India mission
The Statesman, May19. Small LTTE groups have entered some Jaffna suburbs, the Sri Lankan government admitted late tonight. But troops had repulsed the major wave of Tigers trying to break into the town, it said. Four soldiers died in the dawn assault. A government press release said a small group had managed to infiltrate into populated areas of Valikamam East on Jaffna's fringe. "Troops began a search operation ... during the early hours ... This operation is in progress ... Four soldiers were killed and 21 wounded." More..
Published: Thu May 18 22:13:57 EDT 2000

Shelled airport between Tigers and prey
The Telegraph, May19. Tamil Tiger guerrillas claimed to have taken control over two strategic roads leading into Jaffna and are pounding the Pallali airbase to cut off supplies for 40,000 soldiers defending the peninsula. The Sri Lankan government denied the claim. With the battle for Jaffna intensifying by the day, the United States has decided to send its under-secretary of state for political affairs, Thomas Pickering, to Colombo. The decision comes close on the heels of an American willingness to mediate in the ethnic conflict. More..
Published: Thu May 18 22:01:57 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka in search and destroy drive as Tigers shell Jaffna air base
Yahoo, LONDON, May 18. Sri Lankan troops mounted a search and destroy mission against separatist Tamil rebels who shelled a strategically important air base for a second straight day Thursday, diplomatic sources said.Government forces in the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka launched the seach operation against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelamin the Jaffna peninsula located in the north of the country, sources said.In a statement issued in the capital Colombo, the government said a "small group of terrorists" had infiltrated the suburban Jaffna areas of Walikamam East, where there was heavy fighting. More..
Published: Thu May 18 21:34:55 EDT 2000

India Abroad. The battle for Jaffna has reached a decisive stage with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launching a high-intensity offensive against the Sri Lankan army. Emboldened by its recent victories, especially the capture of the crucial Elephant Pass, the LTTE has decided not to seek political negotiations until the capture of Jaffna. The guerrilla group knows pretty well that if it wants to negotiate from a position of strength, it needs to have Jaffna in its kitty. The morale of the Sri Lankan army is at an all-time low, as its five-year long 'war for peace' strategy failed to achieve any strategic advantage. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:42:48 EDT 2000

Jaffna: Testing time for New Delhi
May19. If the Sri Lankan forces manage to push back the advancing LTTE cadres, well and good. The Government of India will gain breathing time. Still, its responsibilities and obligations as, first, the big neighbour of Sri Lanka, second, as the decision-maker for the Tamils of Tamil Nadu, and third, as a regional power in this part of the world, will not have ceased. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:32:31 EDT 2000

Navy gears itself for Jaffna fallout
DeccanHerald, May19. Even as Southern Naval Command prepares itself for all contingencies that might arise due to the ongoing fight in Sri Lanka, a ''quiet`` visit of the Sri Lankan Chief of Defence Staff Gen Rohan De Silva Daluvatte to India has sparked off intense speculation. Sources suggest that Gen Daluvatte is in India ''shopping`` for several items on the wish list of Sri Lankan armed forces including communication equipment.Minesweepers, landing tank ships and Kashin class destroyers have been positioned around the east coast near Chennai. Contingency plans include using LSTs for establishing beachheads for ground troops or for evacuating people trapped along the coast. More....
Published: Thu May 18 18:23:29 EDT 2000

Lankan chief of defence on secret visit to India
Asian Age, May19. While no official version was available about the purpose of the generalís visit, which included a quick hop to Bangalore, Cochin and Thiruvanathapuram, the media was led to believe that he was on a pilgrimage with his family to seek the blessings of Satya Sai Baba at Whitefield near Bangalore ó- which is hard to believe considering the crisis in Sri Lanka due to its civil war with the LTTE. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:16:42 EDT 2000

Tamil refugee-free week declared
Hindu, May19. with the setting up of the forward observation post, the boatmen, ferrying the refugees, started dropping them on the sixth island in Sri Lankan territorial waters. This created problems as Indian Navy and Coast Guard personnel could not cross the international border. When this was reported to the higher- ups, the Navy was given permission to open fire at fleeing boatmen. This brought the refugee arrival to a halt. As the LTTE is advancing towards Jaffna, the Tamils who helped the Sri Lankan Army have also started moving towards Thalaimannar to move into the Indian territory, according to highly placed sources. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:10:29 EDT 2000

We are willing to talk: Kadirgamar
Hindu, May19. We are prepared to start talks even tomorrow morning if the LTTE is willing to do so. We have said that and we do not go back on the stand at all,'' the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar told Aaj Tak in Colombo. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:07:45 EDT 2000

Jaffna precariously poised
Hindu, May18. The Sri Lankan forces may soon find the pressure on Jaffna town unbearable, highly-placed sources in the Government said today. According to these sources, some LTTE cadres have already entered Jaffna in the last few days and a major assault on the town may not be far away. In fact, defending Jaffna may become untenable beyond ``a couple of days'', according to a source.India, on its part, is ready with contingency plans. Indian ships are set to evacuate trapped Sri Lankan soldiers or Tamil refugees in case of an LTTE thrust into Jaffna. Meanwhile, the combined Navy and Coast Guard surveillance exercise, code- named `Tasha', gathered further momentum with another Coast Guard ship joining the vigil around Tuticorin. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:05:31 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka resists incursions
Hindu, may 18. With the rebels maintaining a multi-pronged attack on key Army positions in Jaffna, simultaneous fighting is being reported from several theatres of war. At stake in the north are the Jaffna town, the Palaly base complex, Point Pedro and Kankesanthurai. The Palaly airfield is considered the ultimate target as control over it would seriously impair troop and supply movement to the peninsula. More..
Published: Thu May 18 18:01:22 EDT 2000

India keeping a close watch on Sri Lanka, says Naidu
Chennai, May 18. THE BJP general secretary Venkaiah Naidu today said India was keeping a close watch on the ground realities in Sri Lanka. None of the allies in the NDA government at the Centre, especially from Tamil Nadu, are dissatisfied with the government's decision not to extend military support to the island nation, he said, adding that the allies would not do something to force the Centre to intervene in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, senior Canadian officials today met MDMK chief Vaiko to discuss the Sri Lankan crisis, particularly to understand the situation from the standpoint of the Tamils. More..
Published: Thu May 18 17:49:46 EDT 2000

Censorship makes scribes read between lines
may 19. The government's lines on "strategic repositioning", "effective relocation" and "change of line of attack", may well, imply, that the Tigers have had their day of triumph in the heavy exchange of mortar in the northern peninsula. More..
Published: Thu May 18 17:41:48 EDT 2000

Tight security in Sri Lanka
BBC, Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK. Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK Tight security in Sri Lanka

Security has been tightened after the blast Security has been tightened across Sri Lanka following Wednesday's bomb attack in the town of Batticaloa, which killed 23 people and injured 75. A curfew has been declared in Batticaloa and all reports of the bombing have been censored. The government said that it had censored the news in order to prevent a backlash from the majority Sinhala community. More..
Published: Thu May 18 17:26:26 EDT 2000

Ethnic crisis in Lanka: EU statements objectionable
Hindustan Times, Colombo, May 18. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar told reporters here on Tuesday that he found some of the recent statements emanating from the EU "quaint and fanciful, and not being grounded in facts, objectionable." Indian officials privately wonder what the EU is up to, especially intrigued the timing of the latest statement released in Brussels on Monday. "It is weird," an official, who did not want to be named, said.The Indians as well as the Sri Lankans have noticed that the latest statement does not mention the LTTE, while there has been no compunction about mentioning the Sri Lankan government and rapping it for imposing restrictions on Press freedom and civil liberties as part of the war effort. More..
Published: Thu May 18 14:25:47 EDT 2000

LTTE set to take Jaffna, Army's supply line under fire
Times Of India, May 18. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels Thursday said they had control over two strategic roads leading into Jaffna and were pounding the military's only airport in the region to cut off supplies for 40,000 troops defending the northern Jaffna peninsula.The clandestine Voice of Tigers Radio said seven Sri Lankan soldiers were killed in the attack on Palali airport where between six to 10 artillery shells were fired. "The fighting formation of the Liberation Tigers attacked the Palali airport with artillery today killing seven Sinhalese soldiers," said the broadcast monitored in the northern town of Vavuniya, according to residents reached by telephone. More..
Published: Thu May 18 14:10:49 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka Govt. debunks LTTE claim
Hindu, May 18. The Sri Lankan Government has debunked the LTTE claim that fierce onslaught by its cadres forced government troops to abandon a military complex at Kaithadi in Ariyali sector, saying that the Army has no major base in the area and that only defence lines have been re-adjusted. Military sources in Colombo said there is no major military base at Kaithadi as claimed by the LTTE yesterday. Kaithadi lies five-kms from the entry point to Jaffna. In the face of this denial comes another claim by the rebels that they fired six artillery shells today at Palay air base. More..
Published: Thu May 18 14:00:46 EDT 2000

Rebels strafe Palaly airport, Army Garrison
Hindu, May 18. Tamil rebels pounded a strategically important Palaly airport and nearby Army Garrison in Jaffna peninsula for a second straight day today, though the Sri Lankan Government said that troops continued to push back LTTE guerrillas.Reports reaching here from the fighting zone said the rebels carried out the long-range attacks either with an 81-mm mortar bomb or a 122-mm artillery gun. More..
Published: Thu May 18 13:52:15 EDT 2000

S.Lanka takes steps to avert ''backlash'' after bomb
May 18. Sri Lanka said on Thursday it feared an ''ethnic backlash'' against the Tamil minority after a bomb blast that killed 22 people, and called on the country to protect them from extremists of the majority Sinhala community. The Special Media Information Centre said in a statement that the government was calling on all citizens to protect innocent Tamils after Wednesday's blast near a Buddhist temple. It blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the ''brutal attack'' and said it appeared to have been timed to cause ethnic disharmony. More..
Published: Thu May 18 11:18:24 EDT 2000

Ghosts and spirits are everywhere - A book review
Irish Times, May 18. Novelist Michael Ondaatje has been haunted all his life: by his father's alcoholism, his Sri Lankan roots, and childhood dreams. Now his new work - appropriately titled Anil's Ghost - cannot escape the spectre of its famous predecessor, The English Patient.Michael Ondaatje, who missed his father's funeral but wrote about it anyway: The coffin was too small, 'so they had to build a new one in the house', which they then couldn't get out, 'so they had to break the doors down' - a suitably black farce. More..
Published: Thu May 18 09:54:56 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka Buddhist festival blast toll reaches 29
Yahoo, Thursday, May 18 4:21 PM SGT. The powerful bomb blast that ripped through a Buddhist feast in eastern Sri Lanka killed 29 people and wounded 80, doctors said Thursday. The explosion occurred near a temple in Batticaloa on Wednesday where people were witnessing an illuminated coloured structure to mark the Buddhist feast of Wesak, the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar, officials said. Almost all the victims were members of the minority Tamil community who were witnessing the Buddhist structure which is generally associated with the majority Sinhalese community. More..
Published: Thu May 18 09:17:32 EDT 2000

More rebel shells hit Sri Lanka Jaffna's airbase
MSNBC, May 18. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday fired at least six shells at an air base which provides a lifeline for tens of thousands of troops in the war-torn Jaffna peninsula, officials said by phone. They said details were not immediately available, but initial reports suggested some people may have died in the artillery attack. More..
Published: Thu May 18 09:14:38 EDT 2000

Tamil rebels claim capture of strategic Sri Lankan military base
MSNBC, May 18. Tamil Tiger rebels said today they had captured a strategic military base outside Jaffna city, threatening the main supply route for government troops defending the northern peninsula. ''The strategically important Kaithady garrison town with its heavily fortified military bases fell to the fighting formations of the Liberation Tigers after 12 hours of ferocious combat,'' the rebels said in a statement posted on their Web site. More..
Published: Thu May 18 09:13:27 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan general on secret trip to India-paper
MSNBC, May 18. Sri Lanka's chief of defence staff is on a secret visit to India that may include asking New Delhi for logistical support for troops fighting Tamil Tiger rebels, the Indian Express newspaper said on Thursday. The newspaper quoted defence experts in the Indian navy's southern command as saying Daluwatte could be trying to get logistical support for troops trapped on the Jaffna peninsula. ''All possibilities minus a direct involvement by India might be discussed,'' the paper quoted defence experts as saying. More..
Published: Thu May 18 09:11:33 EDT 2000

Army says it repulsed fresh rebel attack in Jaffna Peninsula
Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 17.15 Sri Lanka Time 18.05.2000. The Media unit said today that the Army had repulsed fresh attacks by tamil rebels. )7 soldiers have been injured in the last 24 hours of fighting the communique which was issued this morning said.
Published: Thu May 18 08:46:16 EDT 2000

Rebels fire artillery at Palali

Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, 17.18 Sri Lanka Time 18.05.2000. Tamil rebels have fired seven rounds of artillery at the Palali air force base killing 08 soldiers and wounding 28 others senior military officials in palali said. The officers said it was the second attack on palali in 24 hours. Last night the rebels fired three artillery shells at Wasavilan adjacent to the Palali base.
Published: Thu May 18 08:46:16 EDT 2000

What Sri Lanka Crisis??
Published: Thu May 18 00:56:36 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan rebels target airport in drive to take Jaffna
CNN, May 18, 2000. Artillery shells threatened the supply line for government troops battling Tamil Tiger rebels for the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna on Wednesday, as the rebel troops bombarded Jaffna peninsula's only airport. More... Watch
Published: Wed May 17 23:41:47 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan Rebels Say Overran Military Complex
Yahoo, Wednesday May 17 9:31 PM ET. The Tigers said in a statement released in London on Wednesday night that their commandos had stormed over defense lines at the Kaithadi military complex, about three miles from the entrance to Jaffna city.The LTTE statement also said more than 100 government soldiers had been killed and several hundreds wounded in the 12-hour long attack on Kaithadi. More..
Published: Wed May 17 21:47:41 EDT 2000

Picture Gallery
Times of India. Indian naval commandos keep vigil at the Forward Observation Post at Land's End (Aritchalmunai) at the tip of the mainland. More..
Published: Wed May 17 20:45:14 EDT 2000

Kaithady military complex falls to LTTE, over 100 troops dead
The Pioneer, May 17. The LTTE today claimed to have killed over 100 Sri Lankan troops and overrun the military complex at Kaithady, about five km away from the entry point of Jaffna peninsula.

The LTTE said in a statement here that the strategically important Kaithady garrison town with its heavily fortified military bases came under its control after fierce fighting which lasted 12 hours. More..
Published: Wed May 17 20:32:22 EDT 2000

Dancing with tigers
National Post. Mr. Martin and Ms. Minna think the dinner commemorated the "Tamil New Year" and denied that the dinner was a FACT fundraiser for the Tamil Tigers, the terrorist organization that is fighting for a separate ethnic state in northern Sri Lanka. Of FACT, Ms. Minna was nonchalant: "we can't judge if there's one or two individuals who may be involved with terrorist activities."

This insistence that FACT is a normal, run-of-the-mill group dedicated to celebrating the culture and achievements of Tamil-Canadians is alarming. More
Published: Wed May 17 20:30:16 EDT 2000

Tamil Tigers' leader poised for dramatic comeback Mysterious mastermind: Fought Sri Lankan army to a standstill over the past 15 years
May 17. It's said Mr. Prabhakaran used to immerse himself in sacks of hot chilies to teach himself to withstand pain and that he has methodically purged his organization of rivals, while ordering the arrest, torture and execution of Tamils who even mildly criticize him. By the time he was 19, Mr. Prabhakaran had gained fame, power and prestige, by assassinating the mayor of Jaffna and plastering the Jaffna peninsula with posters proudly proclaiming his personal responsibility for the killing. More..
Published: Wed May 17 20:27:10 EDT 2000

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) international organization and operations - a preliminary analysis
Peter Chalk, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, March 17, 2000. The ZDI incident graphically demonstrates the global reach of the LTTE, widely recognized to be one of the most proficient and dangerous guerrilla/terrorist groups in the world. In large part, this reputation is owed to the extremely sophisticated international network that has been built by the organization to sustain its 26 year-long struggle against the Colombo Government for the creation of an independent state of Tamil Eelam.(4)

The purpose of this Commentary is to analyze the scope and dimension of this transnational support infrastructure. The document will offer insights into the modus operandi of the LTTE international network, the main personalities and front organizations behind it, and the various ways in which it facilitates the LTTE guerilla and terrorist campaign in north-eastern Sri Lanka. More..
Published: Wed May 17 20:14:54 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka protests Martin, Minna speaking at Tamil dinner High commissioner asked to explain
National Post, May 11. The government of Sri Lanka summoned Ruth Archibald, Canada's high commissioner in Colombo, to a meeting yesterday to protest the conduct of the ministers, who spoke at the event in Toronto last Saturday. The $60-a-plate banquet was organized by the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), which was identified in a report by the U.S. State Department last week as a "front" for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). More..
Published: Wed May 17 20:11:16 EDT 2000

Lanka to keep scribes off House session on war
Times of India, May 18. Journalists will be barred from covering special Parliament sessions which will be held every week to discuss the Tamil separatist war in the north. Unable to censor parliamentary proceedings, the government agreed to meet once a week to discuss the war on the condition that even clerks who take notes of the proceeding for records are banned. More..
Published: Wed May 17 20:05:57 EDT 2000

Indian Dilemma - An editorial
Hindustan Times, In Sri Lanka, this time around, India faces a. Psychologically, there is the memory of a prolonged and debilitating military stalemate even after a politically acceptable accord had been stitched up with the formal consent of all parties concerned. And yet, the India-Sri Lanka Agreement (ISLA) of 1987 blew up on our face. More..
Published: Wed May 17 19:38:29 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan Tamils unhappy at Karunanidhi's somersault
Hindustan Times, Colombo, May 17. n Colombo, TULF MP Joseph Pararajasimgham, said perhaps Mr. Karunanidhi had come under pressure from the Centre which had expressly opposed the creation of a separate Eelam and had extended the ban on the LTTE. But the Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, felt that Mr. Karunanidhi's statement could mean that Tamil Nadu's political ground was being prepared for an Indian intervention in Sri Lanka if the situation was conducive to it." More..
Published: Wed May 17 19:34:24 EDT 2000

UNICEF chief deplores use of child soldiers in Sri Lanka
Orientation, 17 May 2000 23:25 GMT. he head of the UN Children's Fund hit out Wednesday at the use of children as "instruments of war" in conflict-plagued Sri-Lanka.Despite a commitment by the rebels of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) not to recruit children under 17 years, the practice appeared to be continuing, the release said. More..
Published: Wed May 17 19:28:29 EDT 2000

Rebels gain ground in Sri Lanka
May 17. Sri Lankan troops, battling to keep control of the northern Jaffna peninsula, lost some ground in fierce attacks by Tamil Tiger rebels, military officials said on Wednesday.THEY SAID by telephone that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels pressed on with attacks on army positions, pushing troops back in several places after launching what the LTTE said was its "decisive battle" for Jaffna on Monday. More..
Published: Wed May 17 19:22:05 EDT 2000

Health Crisis Exists in Sri Lanka
Yahoo, May 17. The health situation of the civilian population in war-torn northern Sri Lanka is under severe threat and has reached alarming proportions, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO). More..
Published: Wed May 17 19:18:10 EDT 2000

23 killed in Batticaloa temple blast
Times of India, May 17. At least 23 people were killed and over 70 injured in a suspected LTTE bomb attack near a Buddhist temple in eastern Batticaloa Wednesday even as fighting raged on in Jaffna. The powerful blast ripped through a crowded pandal where people were celebrating Vesak, a Buddhist festival, officials said. The dead included six children and three policemen. More..<
Published: Wed May 17 17:38:56 EDT 2000

India has a key role in Sri Lanka, says Inderfurth
Hindu, May 17. Laying out the administration's view of the current crisis in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Mr. Karl F. Inderfurth, made categorically clear in a conversation at his office today that the United States would not at all entertain any notions such as that of the LTTE of a separate state of Tamil Eelam. ``We would not, nor do we believe that the international community would, recognise a unilateral assertion of independence.'' More..<
Published: Wed May 17 17:35:25 EDT 2000

Tigers zeroing in on Palaly airbase
Hindu, May 17. In a combined show of firepower and urban terror-bombing, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) today stepped up pressure on security forces in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. While in the north the rebels trained their field guns at the Palaly air-base around noon today, in the east, at least 17 persons were killed and 63 injured when a powerful explosion ripped the coastal Batticaloa town this evening. Information reaching Colombo indicates that the Tigers are zeroing in on Palaly, with three shells reportedly landing within close reach of the Army's high-security zone. The airfield, however, remained out of the range of rebel fire with the Government denying reports that the Palaly runway was hit. ``Air movement is normal from Palaly,'' a senior Government officer said. ``No damage has been caused to the airfield.'' More..
Published: Wed May 17 17:32:55 EDT 2000

LAcNet launches 'The Lanka Academic'
Ceylon Daily News, May 17, Colombo. Lanka Academic Network, a non-profit organization based in the United States, and composed of a virtual community of Sri Lankans has launched the first ever Internet-Sri Lankan newspaper with 24 hour news updates. The Lanka Academic is freely accessible to anyone with Internet facilities, and will carry news reports updated instantaneously round the clock by international and Sri Lankan reporters. More...

Published: Wed May 17 13:44:35 EDT 2000

Islamabad reaffirms support to Colombo
Dawn, May 17. "The charter of the United Nations as well as the SAARC make it incumbent upon all members (States) to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other States" and added "interference in internal affairs is impermissible under international law". More..

Published: Wed May 17 13:25:06 EDT 2000

Daily Press Briefing
US State Dept., Tuesday, May 16, 2000. QUESTION: How much interest is the US taking in solving the bloody war in Sri Lanka and also if anybody from this Department is in touch with the Sri Lanka Government? More..

Published: Wed May 17 13:19:39 EDT 2000

Curfew imposed in Batticaloa
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 10.10 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. The State today imposed an indefinite curfew at Batticaloa, in Sri Lanka's East. The curfew came into effect soon after a bomb exploded in the heart of Batticaloa's town area. The explosion took place around 5.45 p.m. this evening. Sources are unable to say who is responsible for the bomb.

Published: Wed May 17 12:11:13 EDT 2000

17 killed, 63 injured in bomb explosion in Sri Lanka's East
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.25 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. Seventeen people including children were killed when a bomb exploded close to the Batticaloa police station this evening. A crowd had gathered at the spot to view a vesak pandal at the temple nearby when the explosion occured. Sixty three other persons are reported injured including nearly two dozen security personnel. The Chief of the Batticaloa police station is also reported killed. The bomb is believed to have been fixed to a bicycle.

Published: Wed May 17 11:35:11 EDT 2000

Buddhist holiday blast kills 23, Sri Lanka resists Jaffna drive
Yahoo, Wednesday, May 17 10:39 PM SGT. Tamil Tiger rebels bombed a Buddhist feast in eastern Sri Lanka Wednesday, killing 23 and wounding 75 people as security forces resisted a rebel advance in the island's north, the government said.

The blast occurred near a Buddhist temple in the town of Batticaloa where people were witnessing an illuminated coloured structure to mark the Buddhist feast of Wesak which is the most important Buddhist holiday, officials said.

International aid officiasl who rushed to the main hospital in Batticaloa, 300 kilometres (187 miles) east of here, said 15 people had died on the spot and among them were five children below the age of eight years. More..

Published: Wed May 17 11:26:28 EDT 2000

Bombing at Buddhist celebration kills 14 in Sri Lanka
Yahoo, Wednesday, May 17 9:26 PM SGT. The blast occurred near a Buddhist temple in the town of Batticaloa where people were witnessing a coloured structure to mark the Buddhist feast of Wesak which is the most important Buddhist holiday, officials said.Police said they suspected that the powerful bomb may have been planted inside the portable freezer of an ice cream vendor in the town of Batticaloa, 300 kilometrs (187 miles) east of the capital Colombo. More.. l

Published: Wed May 17 11:22:30 EDT 2000

Bomb explodes at Batticaloa
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. A bomb exploded in the heart of Sri Lanka's Eastern city Batticaloa, at 5.45 p.m. this evening. The explosion took place close to the Batticaloa police station. It is believed that children were among 6 soldiers killed in the blast. Exact casualty figures are not yet known. Sources said that shooting too was heard after the explosion.

Published: Wed May 17 11:18:42 EDT 2000

Chandrika discusses autonomy proposals
Hindu, May 17. Amid heavy fighting in northern Jaffna, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickramasinghe held talks to reach a consensus on providing constitutional guarantees to autonomy proposals to be submitted to the LTTE at a later stage. More..

Published: Wed May 17 11:17:08 EDT 2000

Bomb blast in Sri Lanka
BBC. At least 17 people have been killed in a bomb explosion in eastern Sri Lanka. Details are still coming in, but officials say the bomb went off during a Buddhist religious celebration in the eastern town of Batticaloa. A senior police officer was reported to be among those killed. It is not known who carried out the attack, although previous such attacks have been blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels. More.. Published: Wed May 17 10:52:42 EDT 2000

Jaffna civilians run the gauntlet of Tigers and troops
Yahoo, May 17. The nearly half a million Tamil civilians in northern Sri Lanka run the gauntlet of government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels battling for control of the key town of Jaffna, according to aid officials.

People queued outside shops to stock up on food supplies Tuesday during a brief break in the curfew in Jaffna, where thousands of government soldiers are resisting a fresh offensive by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The government insists that no food or medicine shortages exist in the peninsula but aid workers say prolonged fighting could disrupt the distribution system and cause serious shortages for the civilians.

"Residents can hear firing and at the same time there is no exodus of people from the area," said an aid official who is in radio contact with staff in Jaffna, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Colombo. More..

Published: Wed May 17 10:46:51 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka says Tiger drive on Jaffna stalled with air, sea attacks
May 17. Sri Lankan aircraft and tanks beat back waves of Tamil rebel assaults by killing at least 39 Tiger guerrillas who tried to breach army defences near the town of Jaffna, the government said Wednesday.

Troops backed by aircraft and artillery guns pounded formations of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Columbuthurai and Kaithady overnight, the government said in a statement.

"Troops manning defences observed over 30 terrorist dead bodies ahead of the defences," the statement said adding that another nine rebels were killed when troops smashed a rebel bunker near Navatkuli. More..

Published: Wed May 17 10:44:12 EDT 2000

Terror on Sri Lankan faultline
BBC. The victims lay buried in the soil. They were farming folk. And the same tools they lived by were used to slaughter them.

The survivors are traumatised. They are from the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese, but found themselves on land claimed by the Tamil guerrillas and have now paid the price.

Tee Manike lost three of her four children.

"They were cut up," she said, "and the men who did this must be destroyed." More.. Published: Wed May 17 10:38:24 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka seeks K P S Gill's services
Hindu, May 17. Haunted by the LTTE onslaught on Jaffna, the Sri Lankan Government has invited former Punjab police chief K P S Gill to advise it on anti-terrorist measures, particularly in Colombo.

While the super-cop, credited with crushing terrorism in Punjab, declined to divulge the exact nature of the new assignment, Colombo is believed to have sought his assistance in strengthening security measures for VVIPs in Colombo, where the LTTE had successfully carried out several assassinations and suicide attacks in the past. More.. Published: Wed May 17 10:22:43 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka repulses several LTTE attacks
May 17. A day after Tamil Tiger rebels launched a fresh offensive near Jaffna, the Sri Lankan army is claiming that it has effectively repulsed several LTTE attacks. The army says it managed to push back the rebels with the help of artillery fire, helicopter gunships and Israel-made fighter jets. More..

Published: Wed May 17 10:15:37 EDT 2000

Sri Lankan troops face fresh pressure in Jaffna
MSNBC, May 17. Sri Lankan troops, battling to keep control of the northern Jaffna peninsula, were staving off fierce attacks by Tamil Tiger rebels on Wednesday. The rebels said on Tuesday they had overrun military positions at Navatkuli and Thatchantoppu, just east of Jaffna city, and were advancing north to Kaithadi after launching a huge artillery and mortar bomb attack on the army base there. The government, meanwhile, accused the LTTE of shelling heavily populated areas in a bid to push out the city's 100,000 civilians. More..

Published: Wed May 17 10:08:38 EDT 2000

Artillery shells fall on main Sri Lankan military airport in Jaffna
May 17. Tamil Tiger rebels fired artillery at the Sri Lankan military's only airport in embattled Jaffna today, threatening the supply line for government troops in the peninsula, officials said. Meanwhile, authorities blamed the rebels for an explosion today that killed 17 in an eastern Sri Lanka town. The shells were from a 122 mm artillery gun, which can hit targets within a range of 10 miles, military officials reached by telephone said. More..

Published: Wed May 17 10:06:46 EDT 2000

Tamil rebel attack 'repulsed'
BBC, Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK. successfully repulsed an attack by Tamil Tiger rebels just east of Jaffna Town.

At least 39 rebels were said to have been killed in their latest attempt to capture their former stronghold in the north.

There are no independent confirmations of the report as journalists are banned from the warzone.

The BBC's Susannah Price says that although Tigers said last week they would launch their final assault on Jaffna, they have so far failed to make any significant impact inside the town. More.. Published: Wed May 17 10:00:25 EDT 2000

Tamil conflict at India's doorstep
CSM. t's been called India's Vietnam. And as Sri Lanka's civil war continues to escalate off India's southern coast, the 17-year conflict threatens to draw in its larger neighbor once again.

For the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Elam (LTTE), the tiny Jaffna Peninsula at the tip of the teardrop-shaped island symbolizes the collective desire for an ethnic homeland. The mainly Hindu Tamils say they are fighting discrimination by the majority Buddhist Sinhalese. United since British colonial rule, tensions between them increased after independence in 1948. More..

Published: Wed May 17 09:53:17 EDT 2000

Rebels Attack Sri Lanka Airport
May 17. Tamil Tiger rebels fired three artillery shells at the Sri Lankan military's only airport in Jaffna today, threatening the supply line for government troops in the peninsula, military officials said.

The shells exploded at the Palali airport, the main ammunition and petroleum storage facility in the peninsula.

The shells were from a 122 mm artillery gun, which can hit targets within a range of 10 miles, military officials reached by telephone said.

There was no immediate report on casualties or damage. More..

Published: Wed May 17 09:51:27 EDT 2000

President vows peace in her Vesak Day message
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.30 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge in her message to the nation to commemorate Vesak said she would abide by Buddhist principals to bring about a peaceful resolution to the ethnic conflict. She further lauded a United Nations gesture to recognise Vesak internationally as a day of religious significance. The President's message was made in the wake of fresh fighting between Lankan troops and the LTTE that began yesterday and continued to rage at Jaffna's coastal belt in Sri Lanka's North.

Published: Wed May 17 03:20:19 EDT 2000

Heavy fighting in outskirts of Jaffna's municipal city
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 12.50 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. The Tigers in a press release issued yesterday claimed that the battle for Jaffna resumed with great intensity as heavily armed combat formations of the rebels opened up two frontal offensive assault last night in the coastal belt of Jaffna city and in the Chavakachcheri sector.

The LTTE statement said, "The advancing LTTE forces engaged the Sri Lankan troops in a bloody battle at Pasaiyur and Kurunagar in the municipal outskirts of the city. The Tiger combat units have smashed through the defence lines of the government troops causing heavy casualties to the enemy. Heavy fighting is still raging in that sector."

The Tigers further claim to have overrun military positions at Navatkuli and Thatchanthoppu in the Chavakachcheri sector last night.

The LTTE says that it has also since 5 p.m. last evening launched an attack on the main military base situated at Kaithady junction.

The operation code-named 'Unceasing Waves 3' resumed around 5p.m yesterday after a respite of three days.

Brigadier Palitha Fernando, military spokesman denied tha the LTTE have gained ground in the north. He said there have been "general attacks launched on defense positions at Kaithday last evening," but asserted that there is no main military base at Kaithady junction as claimed by the rebels.

Brigadier Fernando added the Tigers have not advanced beyond Colombothuria East, a position the rebels secured last week.

Published: Wed May 17 03:20:19 EDT 2000

Foreign Minister warns UN
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday warned that any action by the United Nations to set up refugee camps to protect Tamils in case of a backlash in Colombo would be unforgivable.

The Minister added, "We will not tolerate it. Not only would it be interference, it would be needlessly alarmist and unforgivable."

The Minister however reiterated that the UN had not consulted the foreign ministry about such a proposal.

Speculation has been rife that in the event Jaffna were to fall to the rebels it is possible a fall out of the situation will be witnessed in Sri Lanka's South.

The Minister further countered a statement issued by the European Union yesterday which called on the government to lift restrictions on the media, initiate a cessation of hostilities and to ensure the protection of the civilian population in conflict zones, in particular the Jaffna area. Kadirgamar responding said "the EU comes out with these declarations from time to time. The language is usually a little quaint, but strongly objectionable. For instance, there is suddenly a reference to 'commonwealth'. I don't know if the EU is firmly grounded on the soil."

Published: Wed May 17 03:20:19 EDT 2000

Hundreds of Lankan Tamils waiting to cross to India
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.15 p.m. SLT Wednesday May 17. Hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamils are reported to be stranded at Talaimannar in the country's war torn north, waiting to cross the Palk Strait to India. The refugees are however prevented from doing so by Indian naval ships maintaining a strict surveillance between Sri Lankan and Indian territorial waters. It is reported that desperate civilians trying to escape the fire of Lankan troops and the LTTE have paid upto Rs. 15,000/- per boat and are begging to be allowed passage to India's southern coast.

Published: Wed May 17 03:20:19 EDT 2000

Sri Lanka's Tamils trapped between law and war
May 16. Trapped between a brutal guerrilla group, tough anti-terrorism laws and a threat of communal violence, minority Tamils in Sri Lanka are battling apprehension. ''Tension, anxiety, fear...would best characterise the mood in the Tamil community at the moment,'' Pakiasothy Saravanmuttu, himself a Tamil and head of the Colombo based think-tank Centre for Policy Alternatives, told Reuters. Lingam summed up his people's dilemma perfectly. ''We are trapped by this war'' he said. ''When we live in LTTE controlled areas we do what the LTTE wants. And when we come to government-controlled areas we do what the government wants.'' More..

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