The Lanka Academic

VOL. 8, NO. 284


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Bus Bombing Kills 23 in Sri Lanka
Associated Press, jan 16. By RAVI NESSMAN Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- A bomb ripped through a packed civilian bus Wednesday, killing 23 people in southeastern Sri Lanka as the government officially withdrew from a tattered cease-fire with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The blast, the latest in a string of attacks in government-held territory in recent months, struck the bus in the remote town of Buttala, about 150 miles southeast of Colombo.

Doctors from Colombo were being flown to the area by emergency helicopters, government officials said.

It was unclear if the bomb was on the bus or planted by the roadside, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. In addition to the 23 killed, 67 people were injured, he said.

Senior Superintendent Daya Samaraweera, a local police official, said the blast was caused by a roadside bomb and it was followed by a volley of gunshots fired at the bus.

The 8 a.m. explosion came just hours after the official end of the 2002 cease-fire agreement, which had largely broken down over the past two years amid renewed fighting.

Though scrapping the truce has little direct impact on the raging war, the Cabinet's unanimous decision to end the deal was criticized by peace mediators and foreign governments as a move that would make it even more difficult to end the decades-old conflict.

In the two weeks since the government told officials from Norway, a key broker of the deal, that it would end the cease-fire Wednesday, more than 300 people have been killed in violence along the front lines in the north, according to military figures.

The most immediate effect of the end of the cease-fire is the dissolution of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, one of the few independent groups with access to both rebel-held territory and the government.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent state for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority in the north and east after decades of being marginalized by Sinhalese-dominated governments. The fighting has killed more than 70,000 people.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said he abandoned the cease-fire because it wasn't working and the rebels used it as cover to build up their military strength. At least 5,000 people have been killed since the cease-fire was signed.

The cease-fire was hailed as a crucial step toward ending the fighting when it was initiated in 2002 and for several years the violence plummeted and trade and travel flowed easily across the frontier between the rebel's de facto state in the north and government-held territory.

But new fighting broke out two years ago, leading to a wide-scale government offensive that forced the rebels out of the cities and towns of the east in July.

Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi, who rushed to Sri Lanka for talks before the cease-fire expired, said Tuesday his country was concerned that the end of the truce would lead to even greater violence and more civilian casualties. Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jan 15 23:34:50 EST 2008

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Sri Lanka Ends Truce With Rebels, Pans UN Human Rights Comment
bloomberg, jan 16. an. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka formally ended its 2002 cease-fire with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, rejecting as inaccurate a United Nations statement that the conflict may intensify and threaten human rights.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government said the truce, brokered by Norway, will formally end today because the LTTE used it to boost its forces and prepare attacks. The Tamil Tigers last week said they were ``shocked and disappointed'' by the decision.

``The cease-fire ended quite some time ago when the LTTE unilaterally returned to full-scale hostilities in December 2005,'' Sri Lanka's mission to the UN in Geneva said in a statement yesterday.

Sri Lanka's army has driven Tamil Tiger forces from the eastern region, leaving the group in control of bases only in the north as it fights for a separate homeland. The 2002 accord helped the South Asian island nation's $27 billion economy post uninterrupted growth and international aid donors have expressed concern at the ending of the truce, saying there can be no military solution to the 25-year conflict. More... Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jan 15 21:03:59 EST 2008 Back to the top

Japan might reconsider Sri Lanka aid if gov't fails to address civil war concerns
Associated Press, Tue January 15, 2008 12:39 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Japan might reconsider its massive annual aid package to Sri Lanka - if the South Asian nation's government does not address concerns over its escalating civil war, a diplomat said Tuesday. Japan is one of Sri Lanka - 's largest donors, giving about US$400 million (euro268.55 million) in grants and aid last year. Since 1985, Japan has given between US$8 billion and US$9 billion, according to the Japanese Embassy. Japan has yet to pledge money for 2008, a process that usually occurs in February.

As Akashi's three-day visit ended Tuesday, the military announced that 29 Tamil insurgents and three soldiers were killed in worsening fighting in the north. The rebels said 30 soldiers and three Tamil Tigers were killed.

Each side often gives vastly different accounts of the fighting, exaggerating enemy casualties while underreporting its own. Independent confirmation is unavailable since the battle zone is restricted.

Akashi, who has made 15 trips to Sri Lanka - in a vain attempt to end the civil war, said he worried the end of the cease-fire could trigger even more violence and more civilian casualties, ``with dire humanitarian consequences.''

``I conveyed ... the serious concern of the government of Japan on some of the recent moves,'' Akashi said.

He said he also urged Rajapaksa to improve Sri Lanka - 's human rights situation and told the president that only a political agreement could end the conflict between the separatist rebels and the government. Such a solution would require devolving power to local governments, he said.

However, military officials have said they hope to crush the rebels by force by the end of the year.

The Japanese government will closely monitor the situation and will review its financial assistance accordingly, Akashi said.

``Our aid package is based on a complex consideration of factors,'' he said. ``What the government does or does not do will be an important consideration.''

A halt or decrease in aid would be a serious blow to Sri Lanka - , especially with its plan to spend a record 166.4 billion rupees (US$1.5 billion; euro1 billion) on its defense budget this year.

Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona gave a different assessment of Akashi's trip, saying the envoy promised Rajapaksa that Japan would continue giving aid.

In their meeting, Rajapaksa explained to Akashi that he pulled out of the cease-fire because the deal had not delivered its promised benefits and the rebels used it as cover to build up their military strength, Kohona said.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for an independent state for Sri Lanka - 's ethnic Tamil minority after decades of being marginalized by successive Sinhalese-dominated governments. The fighting has killed more than 70,000 people.

Violence continued to rage along the front lines, where government soldiers are facing off against rebel fighters defending their de facto state in parts of the north.

Both sides fought three battles in northeastern Weli-oya region Tuesday afternoon, killing four rebels and a soldier, the military said.

Soldiers pushed into rebel-held territory in northern Mannar district Monday and captured nine Tamil Tiger bunkers, killing nine insurgents, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. Two soldiers also died in the fighting, he said.

Six other attacks at different points along the front lines Monday killed at least 16 other rebels, the military said.

The rebel-affiliated Web site TamilNet reported that Tamil Tiger fighters in Mannar held off a major military offensive backed by artillery and airstrikes in a fierce battle that killed at least 30 soldiers and three rebels. The rebel fighters recovered the body of one soldier, but said they saw other bodies across the field of battle, the Web site reported.

Violence has surged since the government announced its withdrawal from the cease-fire Jan. 3.Discuss this story
Published: Tue Jan 15 20:49:54 EST 2008 Back to the top

3 suspected Tigers held in Delhi
toi, jan 16. NEW DELHI: Three Sri Lankan nationals suspected to have links with the LTTE have been arrested by the crime branch of Delhi Police... Back to the top

UN s Arbour warns over end of Sri Lanka truce, Jan 15, 2008 . GENEVA (Reuters) - The Sri Lankan government's move to scrap a six-year ceasefire with rebels could trigger renewed fighting that could have a devastating effect on rights of civilians, the U... Back to the top

Rajapaksa Says 1987 Provinces Law Is Basis for Sri Lankan Peace, jan 15. Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said a 1987 constitutional amendment that envisaged devolving power to the South Asian island nation's regions is the basis for ending the 24-year conflict with Tamil rebels. The amendment, which came out of a peace accord signed with India, established provincial councils to assume some of the central government's role, Rajapaksa told local television, the Defense Ministry said on its Web site yesterday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka kills rebels, hits back at foreign critics, 15 jan. COLOMBO (AFP) Sri Lanka's government claimed its forces had killed 22 more Tamil Tiger rebels and brushed off international concerns over the island's slide back into all-out war... Back to the top

Japanese envoy guarded at conclusion of Sri Lanka visit+
Associated Press, Tue January 15, 2008 05:22 EST . - - COLOMBO, Jan. 15 (Kyodo) Japan's special peace envoy Yasushi Akashi ended a hurriedly arranged three-day visit to Sri Lanka - on Tuesday, side-stepping discussion of whether Japan will use the aid stick to try to rein in the widely expected military push by government forces to rebel-held northern districts. Akashi, who was making his 15th visit to Sri Lanka - in his present capacity as peace envoy, met with President Mahinda Rajapakse, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and other senior ministers and politicians... Back to the top

Is Sri Lankan govt. winning this war? opinion
khaleej Times, jan 15. SINCE the dawn of 2008, Colombo has been rocked by big bombs and small bombs... Back to the top

Sri Lankan jets bomb rebel artillery pad, 11 killed in other clashes, military says
Associated Press, Mon January 14, 2008 11:00 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed and destroyed a Tamil Tiger rebel artillery post Monday while a ground clash in the restive north killed nine rebels and two soldiers, the military said... Back to the top

Fighting in the north kills 34 as peace envoy meets Sri Lankan officials
Associated Press, Mon January 14, 2008 11:58 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A wave of pitched battles, bombings and an airstrike killed at least 34 people across northern Sri Lanka - , the military said Monday, as a Japanese envoy met with officials to try to stop the raging civil war... Back to the top

30 SLA killed, ground offensive thwarted in Mannaar - LTTE
tamilnet, jan 14. Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam Operations Command in Mannaar has claimed to have thwarted a major push by the Sri Lanka Army launched in Parappaangka'ndal area on Monday... Back to the top

LTTE front organisations running riot in UK, 14 Jan 2008. Sri Lanka has alleged that millions of dollars are still being raised in the UK and mainland Europe by thinly-disguised front organizations for the LTTE, even as it argues for the British government to ban an active UK-based charity it claims to be supported by several southern Indian film stars... Back to the top

Peace Envoy Meets Sri Lankan Officials
Associated Press, Mon January 14, 2008 04:58 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A wave of pitched battles, bombings and an airstrike killed at least 23 people across northern Sri Lanka - , the military said Monday, as a Japanese envoy met with officials to try to stop the raging civil war... Back to the top

Roadside bomb hits bus in northern Sri Lanka , witnesses say
Associated Press, Mon January 14, 2008 00:07 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A roadside bomb hit a vehicle Monday as it traveled near the Vavuniya area of northern Sri Lanka - , military spokesman Brig... Back to the top

LTTE threat: India beefs up coastal security, Monday, January 14, 2008. Colombo, (PTI): India is planning to revamp and upgrade its Coastal Security Scheme to prevent infiltration by LTTE rebels, a media report said here Monday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka names 6-man pace attack for Australia tri-series
Associated Press, Mon January 14, 2008 07:17 EST . COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - has named six pace bowlers including rookie left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara for the next month's three-nation, limited-overs cricket series in Australia... Back to the top

36 LTTE fighters, one soldier killed in Sri Lanka
zee news, jan 14. Colombo, Jan 14: At least 36 fighters of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and an Army personnel were killed in fierce clashes in the restive northern Sri Lanka, the military said here on Monday... Back to the top

Accord with India can solve ethnic issue, says president
Gulf times, jan 14. COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has said the India-Sri Lanka accord of 1987 offers the best solution for the ethnic problem in his country... Back to the top

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