The Lanka Academic

APRIL 27, 2008 EST, USA
VOL. 9, NO. 22


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Latest fighting in Sri Lanka kills 35 rebels 7 soldiers, military says
Associated Press, April 27, 2008. COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Sri Lanka's military says 35 Tamil Tiger rebels and seven soldiers have been killed in the latest fighting in the island's restive north.

Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara says the deadliest fighting Saturday was on the front lines of Welioya, where 22 insurgents and seven soldiers died. One soldier is reported missing.

Thirteen other rebels have been killed in separate battles in the Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar districts, Nanayakkara says.

Rebel officials were not immediately available for comment. Discuss this story
Published: Sun Apr 27 02:39:17 EDT 2008

Amid criticism from West, Sri Lanka turns to less picky donors
Associated Press, Sun April 27, 2008 05:54 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - has hailed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit here Monday as an important step in cementing closer ties between the two nations. ``In Asia, we don't go around preaching to our neighbors and our friends,'' said Sri Lanka - 's foreign secretary, Palitha Kohona. ``This public naming and shaming process that seems to have become so popular in the West is really not so accepted here.''

As if to drive home the point, the capital city of Colombo was plastered Sunday with posters showing smiling photos of Ahmadinejad and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa over the slogans: ``The Friendly Path to Progress'' and ``Traditional Asian Solidarity.''

In the past 18 months Rajapaksa visited China twice, dropped in on neighbors India and Pakistan and traveled to Iran in November.

During that trip, Iran pledged US$1.9 billion (euro1.2 billion) in soft loans and grants to Sri Lanka - to help it expand its only oil refinery, develop an irrigation and hydropower project and buy Iranian oil, Kohona said.

``It is the biggest development assistance package for Sri Lanka - at the moment,'' he said.

It is money Sri Lanka - desperately needs as it continues to wage civil war with the Tamil Tiger rebels a fight projected to cost US$1.5 billion (euro1 billion) this year.

Ahmadinejad was expected to meet top officials and to tour several development projects during his two-day visit. It has not been announced whether he will come bearing further aid for this South Asian nation.

China is also giving about US$1 billion (euro650 million) in aid for a massive new port, an arts center, a power plant and other development projects, Kohona said.

Meanwhile, Western nations have been giving far less money and much heavier criticism of Sri Lanka - 's conduct of the war.

A U.S. State Department report issued in March accused the government and allied militias of attacking civilians and practicing ``torture, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and extortion with impunity.''

A European Union delegation that visited last month said it had ``very serious concerns'' about reports of human rights abuses. It implied that if the situation did not improve, Sri Lankan exports could lose a lucrative tariff exemption.

Some Western nations and United Nations officials have also called for a U.N. human rights monitoring mission to be sent here. The government has rejected the idea as a breach of its sovereignty.

Kohona brushed off much of the criticism, saying the government had made improvements but was also in the middle of a war.

``I think it's a little unfair to beat up on a small democracy that is struggling to fight back a bitter and brutal terrorist organization,'' he said.

Sri Lanka - 's increasingly close ties with less traditional donor nations are allowing it to resist the Western pressure on its rights record, analysts say.

``It is sending a message to the international community ... that the government does have other options to keep its development policies kicking along, and those options come from its new allies,'' said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based think tank.

But he warned that while Sri Lanka - has always had good relations with Iran and China, it could be taking a risk by too closely embracing countries with shaky reputations of their own in the West, which remains Sri Lanka - 's most crucial trading partner.

``That is also the danger here that a small country trying to play big politics could end up as the big loser,'' Saravanamuttu said.

Sri Lanka - exported more than US$2 billion (euro1.3 billion) worth of goods to the United States last year and US$1.7 billion (euro1.1 billion) worth of goods to the European Union in 2006. Sri Lanka - also relies on loans from international financial institutions and the sale of bonds, which also require good relations with the West, Saravanamuttu said.

Kohona said Sri Lanka - had no intention of shunning the U.S. and Europe.

``Aid from the West is appreciated. Our relationships are valued and we would like to continue those relationships,'' he said. ``Our goal is to maintain and strengthen relations with everybody.''Discuss this story
Published: Sun Apr 27 08:49:56 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Sri Lankan rebels launch airstrike on military defense line in war-torn north
Associated Press, Sun April 27, 2008 01:44 EDT . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's separatist rebels used light aircraft to bomb an army defense line in the island's war-torn north early Sunday but didn't cause any casualties, the military said. Meanwhile, police said they arrested nine suspects in connection with a bus bombing that killed 26 passengers outside Sri Lanka - 's capital on Friday.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Saturday the blast proved the Tamil Tiger separatists were facing growing pressure on the battlefield in the north.

``The terrorists had once again resorted to killing innocent civilians in the face of heavy setbacks on the battlefield,'' Rajapaksa said in a statement.

Friday's bomb tore through a bus filled with rush-hour passengers in Piliyandala, a suburb of the capital, Colombo. Among those killed were a Buddhist monk and a 10-year-old child, the government said. Another 64 people were wounded.

Police spokesman N.K. Ilangakoon said the nine suspects were being questioned. He did not give more details.

The military said it fears more rebel attacks against civilians as the northern war front heats up.

The government has stepped up attacks on the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in the north since pulling out of a long-ignored cease-fire in January. It claims to have killed thousands of guerrilla fighters since then. The rebels deny those casualty figures and have managed to fend off numerous offensives.

The rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for minority ethnic Tamils, who have been marginalized by successive governments controlled by Sri Lanka - 's Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.Discuss this story
Published: Sun Apr 27 02:38:22 EDT 2008 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Flying Tigers stage fresh attack as Sri Lanka fighting escalates  -
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers bomb military in north  -

Sri Lankan president says rebels attacked passenger bus because of battlefield setbacks
Associated Press, Sat April 26, 2008 05:59 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Saturday that a bomb that killed 26 bus passengers showed Tamil separatist rebels were resorting to desperate measures as they faced growing pressure on the battlefield in the north... Back to the top

Bomb victims compensated in Sri Lanka, 2008-04-27 21:03:05. COLOMBO, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government has begun paying compensation to the victims of Friday evening's bomb attack, which was blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said on Sunday... Back to the top

9 arrested in Sri Lanka bus bombing as air force attacks Tamil Tiger positions
Associated Press, Sat April 26, 2008 13:19 EDT . RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) Police arrested nine suspects in connection with a bus bombing that killed 26 passengers outside Sri Lanka's capital, officials said Saturday as air force jets attacked the Tamil rebels blamed for the attack... Back to the top

Death toll in Sri Lanka bus blast rises to 26+
Associated Press, Sat April 26, 2008 09:55 EDT . - - COLOMBO, April 26 (Kyodo) The death toll in a bus explosion rose to 26 on Saturday as President Mahinda Rajapakse accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of ''resorting to killing innocent civilians in the face of heavy setbacks in the battle field... Back to the top

Lanka bus explosion LTTE s revenge killing, April 26, 2008 , 7:48 EDT. Colombo (PTI): Sri Lankan army on Saturday said the deadly explosion in a passenger bus near here on Friday which claimed 26 lives was a "revenge killing" by LTTE which lost more than 160 fighters in clashes at Jaffna... Back to the top

Sri Lanka meets tough Tamil Tiger resistance in north, April 25. NEW DELHI - Scores of Sri Lankan soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels were killed this week in fierce fighting that has diminished the government's claim that it will wrest the north from rebel control by the end of the year... Back to the top

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