The Lanka Academic

VOL. 8, NO. 315


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“Wanni drive yielding results”
hindu, February 16, 2008. COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Defence Ministry said on Friday the security forces’ “quest to liberate terror-dominated Wanni region is gaining” drive. Many civilians had been able to escape the terror clutches and seek protection in the cleared areas, it said.

It said that in Mannar 22 civilians sought protection at the Navy posts since Tuesday. “The civilians who were from Vellankulama and Iluppakadavai, deep in the non-liberated Wanni, have claimed that they could escape the terror clutches because of the dwindling LTTE hold in the region.”

The Ministry said the Army continued to attack terror fortifications that hold the civilians in “an open prison” killing at least 30 terrorists and wounding over 12.

It said in the Jaffna theatre of battle, troops deployed at Muhamalai advanced into the LTTE defences and destroyed one terror bunker. One soldier was killed and three were injured in the incident. More... Discuss this story
Published: Fri Feb 15 21:14:47 EST 2008

Sri Lankan Civil War Spreads to Colombo
Associated Press, Fri February 15, 2008 13:04 EST . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) As a raging civil war killed thousands in the country's northeast, Sri Lankans in Colombo and other southern cities shopped, held picnics and cheered their children at soccer matches.

Now a recent wave of bombings has brought the devastation of the civil war to the heart of the capital, and many are scared to leave their homes. The bombings blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels have ripped through passenger buses and a department store and killed half a high school baseball team in a packed train station.

Normally overflowing buses travel half empty, parents whisk their children home after school and the government has appealed for tens of thousands of volunteers for a new civilian security force aimed at preventing more attacks.

``A bomb could go off at anytime,'' said Colombo resident Dilhar Gunasekara. ``Everyone is scared.''

The rebels, listed as a terror group by the United States and the European Union, have been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east. For years, they were discriminated against by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.

The fighting, which has killed an estimated 70,000 people in this island nation in the Indian Ocean, largely ended after a 2002 cease-fire deal. But new violence erupted two years ago. In July, the government said it had driven the rebels from the east and turned its attention to the rebels' heartland in the north.

Although there was scattered violence in the south in recent years, much of it was far from Colombo and its approximately 800,000 residents, or targeted government and military leaders. Many residents of Colombo shrugged off the violence.

But that complacency was shattered Nov. 28 when a powerful bomb hidden in a package killed at least 17 people at a suburban department store. A string of attacks followed, culminating in the bombing of two buses in other towns and a suicide blast in Colombo's main train station in the days around the nation's 60th Independence Day on Feb. 4.

Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer repeated calls seeking comment. The group routinely denies responsibility for such attacks and accuses the government of targeting civilians in rebel-held territory.

Since the beginning of the year, 90 civilians have been killed and nearly 300 wounded in government-held territory, according to the military. Of those, 19 have been killed and 122 wounded in Colombo and its suburbs.

``When I leave home, I'm just not certain I'll make it back,'' said 34-year-old Bastian Bosco David, a small business owner, as he waited for a bus to Puttalam, about 75 miles north of Colombo.

Security forces have put up signs around Colombo calling for residents to report anything suspicious. Police have fenced off outdoor bus stations and begun searching passengers' bags as they enter.

Bus companies have instructed drivers to look under their vehicles and to ban bags from overhead racks to make it more difficult for an attacker to plant a bomb, said Gemunu Wijeratne, head of the private bus owners' association.

``All possible measures are being taken now,'' said Cabinet minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

Education officials, who canceled school for nearly a week after the most recent attacks, have banned public functions, held security briefings for students and debated whether to cancel popular cricket tournaments against rival schools or hold them without fans, said K.A.D. Punyadasa, principal of the Isipathana school. Parents have been recruited to search students' bags and patrol the school grounds.

Harold Pattikkara Bandarage used to let his 14-year-old son take the bus home from school. With the new violence though, he rearranged his work schedule at a Colombo university and now picks his son up every afternoon on his motorcycle during his lunch break, he said.

Bartenders and restaurateurs say business has plunged as people choose to stay home rather than brave public places. Bus owners say they have lost half their passengers and cannot find replacements for drivers who are quitting.

Rambukwella called the attacks a desperate move by rebels facing battlefield defeat to rally the Tamil community by sparking new ethnic violence in the capital. Top government officials have promised to crush the rebels by the end of this year.

Gunasekara, the Colombo resident, said she did not care whether the government signed a peace deal with the rebels or defeated them on the battlefield.

``Somehow or other the fighting and violence has got to come to an end,'' she said.Discuss this story
Published: Fri Feb 15 21:07:17 EST 2008 Back to the top

Tamil Tigers exploit exiles abroad to fund insurgency, February 16, 2008. THE Sri Lankan flag, with its green-and-orange stripes and yellow image of a lion, fluttered proudly in a brisk ocean wind. President Mahinda Rajapaksa also seemed filled with pride when he stepped up to the microphone to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence on Monday of last week.

“Our security forces are today achieving victories against terrorism unprecedented in history,” he said defiantly, referring to the civil war that has crippled the country for the last 25 years. “Terrorism is receiving an unprecedented defeat.” Despite the military parade that followed Rajapaksa’s address, it was clear, judging by the many ordinary soldiers positioned behind sandbags, rolls of barbed wire and temporary bunkers in the capital Colombo, that the ceremony was only made possible by tight security precautions. More... Discuss this story
Published: Fri Feb 15 21:08:36 EST 2008 Back to the top

China's growing taste for tea forces up the price of our daily cuppa
TimesOnline, February 16, 2008. he cost of a British cuppa is expected to rise by as much 10 per cent this year as tight supplies send tea prices higher and Chinese consumption surges past that of India for the first time... Back to the top

Sri Lanka player banned after cannabis test
irb, February 16, 2008. Following an adverse analytical finding for Cannabis, the sanction for Sri Lanka player Kasun De Silva has been set at three months by an IRB Judicial Committee... Back to the top

Sri Lanka woos tourists from Gulf
GulfNews, February 16, 2008. Abu Dhabi: Sri Lanka is aiming for a 20 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals in 2008 led by visitors from the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries, the country's deputy minister of tourism said... Back to the top

Desperate measures : PCB plans ODIs with India and Sri Lanka if Australia pull out, February 16, 2008. AHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is planning to invite India and Sri Lanka for a series of one-day internationals if Australia pull out of their scheduled tour in March-April this year... Back to the top

Air force jets bomb Tamil rebels' naval base, military says
Associated Press, Fri February 15, 2008 04:14 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Air force jets bombed a training base of the Tamil Tiger rebels' naval wing Friday in northern Sri Lanka - , causing severe damage, the military said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Jan tourist arrivals up 0.6 pct vs yr ago, 15 feb. COLOMBO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka in January crept up a better-than-expected, 0.64 percent compared with a year earlier, given an esclalation in violence on the island... Back to the top

Sri Lankan journalists march against media suppression
Associated Press, Thu February 14, 2008 09:31 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Hundreds of journalists marched Thursday in Sri Lanka - 's capital to protest harassment and suppression of the media... Back to the top

Fighting kills 52 rebels as jets bomb rebel base in northern Sri Lanka , says military
Associated Press, Thu February 14, 2008 06:24 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Government troops fighting Tamil Tiger separatists across the jungles of northern Sri Lanka - killed 52 rebel fighters in recent days, the military said Thursday... Back to the top

S Lanka civilian toll appalling, 14 feb. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that the number of civilians killed and injured in Sri Lanka has reached "appalling levels"... Back to the top

Tsunamis And Tamil Tigers, Feb. 14, 2008. Even during the worst of the tsunami coverage on the island of Sri Lanka three years ago, I knew I wanted to return... Back to the top

Sri Lankan military: Fighting kills 22 Tamil rebels in volatile north
Associated Press, Thu February 14, 2008 01:39 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Government troops battled with separatist Tamil Tigers across Sri Lanka - 's embattled north, killing 22 rebels, the military said Thursday... Back to the top

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