The Lanka Academic

 
AUGUST 15, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 7, NO. 131

JAYANTHA DHANAPALA

Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.
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Violence rages in Sri Lanka as the country appears to be back at war
Associated Press, Tue August 15, 2006 12:00 EDT . MATTHEW ROSENBERG - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Was it a children's home or a rebel base? Perhaps more importantly, is there a difference? Jayawardana's words may seem callous, but the sentiments like his are becoming more the rule than exception on either side of the ethnic divide in Sri Lanka - , where intense fighting in recent weeks looks increasingly like an outright renewal of civil war.

The government and Tigers may both insist they're committed to a 2002 cease-fire, but ``we're essentially back at war,'' said Nalim Fernando of the Asia Foundation.

``This is really what the war looked like,'' Fernando said. ``There really weren't a lot of big set piece battles. It was really the drip-drip of low-intensity conflict.''

Many believed the 2002 truce heralded the beginning of the end of Asia's longest running war, a conflict probably know best for Tigers' use of suicide bombings and child soldiers.

But in the past two years, midnight disappearances have morphed into bombings and shootings that have in turn given way in recent weeks to open conflict along the frontiers separating government and Tiger territory in the country's north and east.

The latest fighting between the government, dominated by Sri Lanka - 's 14 million predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese, and the Tigers, who have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for the country's 3.2 million largely Hindu Tamils, may have been overshadowed by crises in the Middle East and elsewhere. But it has been among the world's bloodiest.

Nearly every day, one side or the other releases reports of civilians slaughtered in a church or combatants wiped out in the jungles claims that are often as much fact as fiction, and nearly impossible to verify

But in one indication of the mounting death toll, the only group that kept a reliable tally a Nordic cease-fire monitoring mission says it has lost count in recent days.

Last week, more than a thousand people were thought to have died since the start of the year, many of them civilians. Now, death tolls are ``pure guesswork,'' said a Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to undermine his relationship with Sri Lankan officials.

In the last few days alone, the government says it lost 90 soldiers in fighting on the northern Jaffna Peninsula and killed some 200 rebels a figure that's likely inflated, but nonetheless indicative of the high costs both sides are enduring.

Monday saw an auto rickshaw packed with explosives blow up in Colombo, the capital, killing seven in an attack blamed on the Tigers.

And then there was the air raid in the northeast that may or may not have hit a children's home. Nordic monitors and aid workers say dozens died, although no one has a precise figure.

Whether it was a school or a rebel base remains an open question. The monitors said those killed were between the ages of 17 and 20 a group that fits the demographic of typical Tiger fighters.

What is clear is that attacks like the rickshaw bombing and air raid stiffen the resolve on both sides.

In the south, where the Sinhalese dominate, analysts say support for the fight is swelling.

``They are using children to kill us, and then they say don't attack the children,'' said M.W. Jayasinghe, a 33-year-old accountant in Colombo. ``What can we do? They are a violent people.''

The rebel-held north has been largely cut off by the fighting, but Tamil civilians interviewed there earlier this summer, as violence mounted, were no less wary of the Sinhalese.

``We don't want to fight, but we have to it is the only we have won any freedom,'' said Markanbu Anandan, a 48-year-old Tamil mason in the Killinochchi, the rebel's de facto capital.

The latest round of fighting began in late July over a rebel-controlled water supply near the eastern port of Trincomalee. It spread over the past week to other parts of the east and the northern Jaffna Peninsula, the Tamils' heartland that remains under government control.

Aid workers estimate that about 100,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, and across the north and east, fighting has cleared the streets of villages and towns.

The south has never seen opening fighting, and streets there remain crowded with people shopping, eating and going about their daily routines.

But nowadays there's an edge to everyday life the government on Tuesday even ordered all schools temporarily closed for fear they could be targeted by the Tigers.

The move was a relief to Saritha Guruge, a 44-year-old mother of two in Colombo.

With schools shut for the rest of the month, ``at least I don't have to worry about my children when they are away from me,'' she said. Discuss this story
Published: Tue Aug 15 12:25:34 EDT 2006


Fighting rages in the northern Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Tue August 15, 2006 04:00 EDT . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels traded artillery and mortar fire in northern Sri Lanka - on Tuesday, an official said, as schools closed over fears that civilians could be targeted by the insurgents. Aid workers estimate that around 100,000 people have been displaced in northern and eastern Sri Lanka - since July by the fighting, the worst seen here since a 2002 cease-fire

The truce was intended to halt more than two decades of bloodshed between the government, dominated by Sri Lanka - 's 14 million Sinhalese, and the rebels, who have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for the country's 3.2 million Tamils.

While it remains officially in effect, months of shootings and bombings already had left it in tatters before the latest round of clashes, which began in July over a water supply in eastern Sri Lanka - and then spread north.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was ``increasingly alarmed'' over the violence and called on both sides ``to cease hostilities immediately and to return to the negotiating table,'' U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at U.N. headquarters in New York.

In Colombo, the Education Ministry ordered schools closed until Aug. 28 after a bombing a day earlier in the capital killed seven and a Tiger front group reportedly threatened to hit civilians in southern Sri Lanka - , where the Sinhalese dominate.

The bomb in Colombo was planted in an auto rickshaw that blew up as a car carrying Pakistan's high commissioner, Basir Ali Mohmand, passed by along a crowded road. At least seven people were killed and 10 injured.

But the diplomat, who was believed to be the target of the blast, escaped unhurt.

Pakistan is a major supplier of arms to Sri Lanka - 's military, and officials here blamed the attack on the Tigers, who offered no comment.

But there were conflicting reports about whether the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber or explosives packed in the rickshaw.

Earlier Monday, Sri Lankan air force jets bombed the northeastern Mullaitivu district, deep inside rebel territory.

The pro-rebel TamilNet Web site, citing Tiger officials, reported that 61 girls who were studying there were killed and another 60 were injured.

But the government insisted it was a rebel base, and on Tuesday officials showed journalists aerial photographs of what they said were firing ranges and weapons stores.

Defense spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, described the alleged base as a transit center where fighters were being briefed before being sent to fight in the Jaffna Peninsula.

As for reports that some of those killed may have been children, Jayawardana said, ``If the children are terrorists, what can we do?'' The Tigers are widely known to use child fighters.

An official from a Nordic cease-fire monitoring team, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the site appeared to be a home for students between 17 and 20 years old.

The official said a monitor who visited the site saw only 19 bodies at a nearby hospital, but believed there may have been more elsewhere. ... Discuss this story
Published: Tue Aug 15 04:31:02 EDT 2006 Back to the top

Related News Stories
·
Sri Lanka fighting rages  - Reuters

Intensity Dwindles As LTTE Decomposed Bodies Buried
SLArmy, August 15. JAFFNA: INTENSITY OF LTTE (Tamil Tigers) attacks on JAFFNA peninsula has drastically dwindled as dawn was breaking Tuesday (15) after troops of the Sri Lanka Army trounced the enemy forcing many of them to run away.

As of Tuesday (15) noon, at least one hundred dead bodies of LTTE terrorists were seen lying scattered ahead of the MUHAMALAI Forward Defence Line (FDL) since the LTTE has not hitherto come there for collection of their cadres. More... Discuss this story
Published: Tue Aug 15 16:53:16 EDT 2006 Back to the top


UN disputes Sri Lanka raid claims
BBC, August 15. UN officials and truce monitors in Sri Lanka have rejected government claims that children killed in an air force raid on Monday were child soldiers... Back to the top

Pakistan's Envoy Nearly Killed in Sri Lanka
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo, Aug. 14th, 2006. By SHIMALI SENANAYAKE COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, NYT =97 Pakistan's ambassador to Sri Lanka escaped injury from a roadside bombing here on Monday but seven people were killed, the police said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka: heavy fighting causes more displacement
Reuters, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 08:20 EDT. Continued heavy fighting in the north and east of Sri Lanka has sent several thousand more civilians fleeing their homes in search of safety in the last few days... Back to the top

Envoy avoids assassination in Sri Lanka - but bombs kill 61 girls
The Star, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 01:00 EDT. Colombo - Pakistan's top envoy has escaped a bomb attack which killed seven people in the Sri Lankan capital... Back to the top

South Africa to await security evaluation after blast in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Tue August 15, 2006 08:06 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) South Africa will await an independent security evaluation before deciding whether to withdraw from a tri-nation cricket series in Sri Lanka - , following a bomb blast near the team's hotel, a cricket official said Tuesday... Back to the top

'LTTE orphanage was a military camp'
Hindustan Times, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 08:05 EDT. The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday rebutted the Tamil Tigers' allegation that the Air Force had bombed an orphanage called Chencholai killing 61 young girls and wounding 155... Back to the top

Arms deal made Pakistan envoy target for Sri Lanka rebels
Dawn, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 08:45 EDT. Arms deal made Pakistan envoy target for Sri Lanka rebels COLOMBO, Aug 15 (AFP) - A bid to assassinate Bashir Wali Mohmand, Pakistan's envoy to Sri Lanka, was triggered by plans for Islamabad to ship new arms to the island to battle Tamil rebels, a government spokesman said Tuesday... Back to the top

Tri-series in Sri Lanka in doubt as South Africa withdraws from opener over bomb fears
Associated Press, Tue August 15, 2006 02:41 EDT . SANDEEP NAKAI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's tri-nation cricket series with India and South Africa was in doubt Tuesday after the South African team pulled out of the series opener because of jitters over a bomb blast near their hotel... Back to the top

Schools closed in Sri Lanka after attack
The Hindu, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 08:05 EDT. Colombo, Aug. 15. (PTI): Sri Lanka today tightened security in the wake of a mine explosion in the capital targeting the top Pakistani envoy that killed seven people, even as schools were closed ahead of schedule amid fears of attacks by LTTE to avenge the killing of 61 school girls in the northeast... Back to the top

Suicide attack in Colombo
The Hindu, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 01:16 EDT. COLOMBO: At least seven persons, including four soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), were killed in a claymore attack allegedly by the LTTE targeting Pakistan High Commissioner Bashir Wali Mohamad in the heart of the national capital on Monday afternoon... Back to the top

43 children killed in Sri Lankan raid, says LTTE
Hindustan Times, Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 01:16 EDT. The LTTE has alleged that 43 Tamil school girls were killed and 60 wounded when the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed a first aid training centre in the LTTE- controlled northern district of Mullaitivu on Monday... Back to the top

Annan expresses 'profound concern' over violence in Sri Lanka +
Associated Press, Mon August 14, 2006 16:24 EDT . - - NEW YORK, Aug. 14 (Kyodo) U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed concern Monday over the ongoing violence in northeast Sri Lanka - that reportedly killed dozens of students... Back to the top

LEAD: Sri Lanka says air strike victims were 'child soldiers'
Associated Press, Mon August 14, 2006 08:27 EDT . - - Sri Lanka's government on Monday rejected Tamil Tiger claims that schoolgirls were the victims of an air force strike earlier in the day, saying the strike targeted a training camp for child soldiers... Back to the top

Sri Lanka shuts schools indefinitely after bombing
AFP/DNAINDIA, August 14. COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has ordered the indefinite shutting of all schools amid fears of reprisals after an airforce bombing of a rebel-run orphanage where 61 children were killed... Back to the top

Fighting in the northeastern Sri Lanka and bombing in capital leave at least 50 dead
Associated Press, Mon August 14, 2006 08:52 EDT . MATTHEW ROSENBERG - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Fighting in Sri Lanka - 's north and east and a bombing in the capital left at least 50 people dead Monday, including 43 schoolgirls killed in what the Tamil Tigers charged was a government air raid on a children's home in rebel territory... Back to the top

S.Africa wants cricket players' safety guaranteed in Sri Lanka
Reuters, August 14. DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - South Africa will withdraw their team from a triangular tournament in Sri Lanka if the safety of their players is not guaranteed in the wake of a Colombo bomb blast, a senior official said on Monday... Back to the top

Rebels rule out peace talks as 58 civilians are reported killed in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Mon August 14, 2006 02:19 EDT . MATTHEW ROSENBERG - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Tamil Tiger rebels ruled out peace talks as battles raged in Sri Lanka - 's north and east, and a pro-rebel Web site on Monday accused government forces of killing 58 people in separate strikes on a church and a children's home... Back to the top

Report: Sri Lankan air raid kills at least 43 school girls in rebel territory
Associated Press, Mon August 14, 2006 01:58 EDT . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A pro-rebel Web site reported that Sri Lankan jets on Monday bombed a children's home in the country's rebel-held northeast, killing 43 schoolgirls who were there taking a first aid course... Back to the top

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