The Lanka Academic

VOL. 8, NO. 278


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Sri Lankan military: Soldiers seize rebel-held territory in north as fighting kills 47
Associated Press, Wed January 9, 2008 10:07 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers pushed across the front lines and captured a piece of rebel-held territory as heavy artillery and mortar battles across the embattled north killed 47 people, the military said Wednesday. Police commandoes fatally shot a senior rebel leader Wednesday identified as Shankar, who was hiding among civilians in the east, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. Shankar was the insurgents' top leader in eastern Sri Lanka, a region the government said it had liberated from Tamil Tiger control in July.

The rebels could not be reached for comment. Each side routinely exaggerates the other's casualties and plays down its own.

The killing came hours after army troops backed by artillery and mortar fire seized about one square kilometer (0.4 square mile) of territory near the village of Parappaankandal in the northern Mannar district, southwest of rebels' northern headquarters, Nanayakkara said.

The military has driven deep into rebel territory in recent months and pushed the front lines back from three to 20 kilometers (two to 12 miles) in different areas, he said.

The battle Tuesday killed 19 guerrillas and one soldier, while five insurgents died in a separate clash in the same district, he said.

In the nearby Vavuniya district, soldiers killed 13 guerrillas Tuesday, and three more rebels were killed on Jaffna peninsula, Nanayakkara said. Ten soldiers were wounded.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, soldiers fought two separate gunbattles in Jaffna, killing five insurgents, Nanayakkara said. Clashes wounded five soldiers.

Senior military officials have vowed to dismantle the rebels' de facto state in parts of the north this year and then hunt down the remaining rebels fighting in the jungle.

The infantry clashes came hours after a roadside bomb blamed on the rebels killed a government minister near the capital.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa condemned the assassination Tuesday as proof of the rebel group's ``continued commitment to terror and violence,'' and hinted the government would strike back.

``This sad event is a further reminder of the need to redouble our efforts to rid our country of terrorism and the use of violence to achieve political ends,'' he said in a statement.

Both sides in the fight routinely target the other's leaders. A government airstrike in November killed the rebels' political leader, S.P. Tamilselvan, and an attack Sunday killed a top rebel intelligence officer, Shanmuganathan Ravishankar, also known as Col. Charles.

The rebels have tried repeatedly to kill senior government and military officials, though the attack Tuesday was their first successful assassination in 19 months.

The bomb tore through the car carrying Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake as he traveled through the Ja-Ela area, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital, Colombo, said Nanayakkara. The blast also killed another person and wounded 10 others.

Dassanayake had been assigned to help coordinate efforts to rebuild Sri Lanka's Eastern Province after government forces drove the rebels from the area in July. Rajapaksa suggested Dassanayake was killed because his work in the east angered the rebels.

The rebels have been blamed for a spate of assassination attempts.

In November, a suicide bomber killed an aide to Social Services Minister Douglas Devananda in a failed attack on the minister. Bombing attacks in 2006 also failed to kill Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the president's brother.

The last successful assassination took place in June 2006, when the rebels killed Maj. Gen. Parami Kulatunga, the country's third-ranking military officer.

More than 70,000 people have been killed since the rebels began fighting in 1983 for an independent state for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority, claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.

A new wave of fighting in the north has killed 145 people 140 rebels and five soldiers in the six days since the government's withdrawal from the truce, according to the military.
Published: Wed Jan 9 11:09:53 EST 2008

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S.Lanka says kills 38 Tigers, captures rebel area  -
Sri Lankan military: Soldiers seize rebel-held territory in north as fighting kills 42  - Associated Press
Sri Lanka troops claim rebel territory  -
Sri Lankan Troops Seize Rebel-Held Territory, Kill 20 Tamil Tiger Rebels  - Associated Press

Sri Lanka President Calls for Unity Against Terrorism (Update1), January 09, 2008. By Jay Shankar

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's parties must unite to fight terrorism, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said after a government minister was assassinated in an attack blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels.

Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake and his bodyguard were killed when a land mine planted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam exploded north of the capital, Colombo, the Defense Ministry said. At least 12 people were injured in the explosion, five of them critically.

``This sad event is a further reminder of the need to redouble our efforts to rid our country of terrorism and the use of violence to achieve political ends,'' Rajapaksa said in an e- mailed statement. The killing should be a ``further call for unity by all who stand for freedom and democracy,'' he said. The rebels haven't commented on yesterday's attack.

Rajapaksa, who has vowed to ``eradicate'' terrorism and increased funding for the army, navy and air forces to a record 166.4 billion rupees ($1.5 billion), has faced resistance to his plans. The island nation's main opposition, the United National Party, is against a military solution to the conflict and favors a negotiated political settlement.

The Tamil Tigers, designated a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and India, have been fighting for 24 years for a separate homeland for Tamils on the South Asian island. The conflict has left more than 70,000 people dead.

Targeting Leaders

The government withdrew last week from a 2002 cease-fire accord with the LTTE and is targeting its leaders, including the group's military intelligence chief, who was killed Jan. 6.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, More...
Published: Wed Jan 9 22:32:40 EST 2008 Back to the top

Sri Lankan air force chief escaped bomb blast, Wed, January 09, 2008, 12:11 EDT. By P.K. Balachandran, Colombo, Jan 9 : Sri Lanka's air force chief, Air Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke, narrowly escaped being caught in a bomb blast in the capital Tuesday.

The media Wednesday quoted military officials as saying that the air force commander had passed by the site of the blast in the Fort area of central Colombo, just three minutes before a parcel bomb placed in a roadside public telephone booth went off.

Fitted with a timer, the bomb caused some minor damage to a building nearby. No one was injured.

It had gone off at 7.50 p.m. when there was virtually no traffic on the road. Being a high security zone with the presidential palace, the port and major commercial establishments in it, the Fort area comes under severe traffic restrictions after office hours. More... Discuss this story
Published: Wed Jan 9 00:13:07 EST 2008 Back to the top

Blast in Sri Lanka capital, no one hurt-Official
Reuters, jan 8. COLOMBO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A bomb exploded in a phone booth in a block of flats in the business area of the Sri Lankan capital on Tuesday evening, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties, the government said... Back to the top

Bomb blamed on rebels kills Sri Lankan minister, wounds 10 others, military says
Associated Press, Tue January 8, 2008 03:31 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ A Sri Lankan government minister was killed Tuesday in a roadside bombing blamed on the Tamil Tiger rebels, the first successful assassination of a top Sri Lankan official in 19 months... Back to the top

Sri Lankan military: 10 Tamil rebels killed in fighting in embattled north
Associated Press, Tue January 8, 2008 07:41 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers clashed with separatist Tamil Tigers in the embattled north Tuesday, killing 10 insurgents, the military said... Back to the top

Fighting in Sri Lanka kills 85 in 4 days, military says
Associated Press, Mon January 7, 2008 22:43 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Intensifying violence in Sri Lanka - 's embattled north pushed the death toll from four days of fighting to 85, the military said Tuesday, as the European Union warned of rising human rights violations after the government withdrew from a 2002 cease-fire... Back to the top

LTTE won t agree for talks during Prabhakaran s time: Minister, January 8. Colombo (PTI): The LTTE would not agree for talks with the government during the lifetime of its leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, a Sri Lankan Minister and Tamil politician, who has escaped several assassination attempts by the rebels, has said... Back to the top

Road side blast on VIP convoy
TLA, jan 8. Wire services report of a road side blast on a VIP convoy... Back to the top

Maldives president escapes assassination attempt with help of boy scout
Associated Press, Tue January 8, 2008 06:39 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) The Maldives president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, survived an assassination attempt Tuesday when a boy scout grabbed the knife of an attacker who jumped out of a crowd of people greeting the president, a government spokesman said... Back to the top

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