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Archive for September 14th, 2004

2nd. Lieutenant Mr.Sameera Mangalaratne attached to Soorankal Sri Lanka Army (SLA) detachment was identified as the person who was killed in the fire-fight with home guards in Mullipottan in the Kanalai police division on Monday, Police said. Another army lieutenant has been arrested and three other soldiers are evading arrest, the police added.

Initial investigations revealed that the fire fight erupted when the SLA official and four other soldiers attempted to rob arms from a police-home guard checkpoint at Vendarasanpura in Mullipottana, Kantalai Police added.

Home guard of the Kantalai Police, Mr.Chaminda Kumara, was seriously injured and has been admitted at the Kurunagala hospital, medical sources said.

Police investigation conducted revealed that a group of soldiers from Soorankal camp had left in a vehicle Sunday night, had parked the vehicle some distance away and had walked into the police-home guard checkpoint. The firefight that ensued during the attempt to robbery, one SLA officer was killed and a home guard was injured. Thereafter the four soldiers had fled in the vehicle leaving the dead, the police said.

Police recovered the vehicle, which was abandoned in the premises of the Sarvodhaya office in the area.

The Police and SLA are jointly conducting further investigations into the incident, Police said.

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A member of underworld gang was shot dead by home guards Monday early morning around 1.30 a.m at Mullipottana home guard sentry point which is located on Trincomalee-Kandy highway, about 34 km off Trincomalee town, police said.

The gang, which came in a vehicle had entered into the home guard sentry point and attempted to grab arms from them. In the melee home guards in the opposite side of the check point fired at them killing one. Other members of the gang had fled following the shooting. Initial investigation revealed that dead member was a soldier in the Sri Lanka Army at the time of incident. The name of the dead is not yet released, police sources said.

The Police have taken steps to locate the vehicle and other members of the gang, security sources said.

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More than 75 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were killed in heavy fighting in the Mannar district on Sunday, the Liberation Tigers said today in a statement issued from their London offices. The LTTE said the SLA “suffered a serious military debacle” when the Tigers used artillery and mortar fire on advancing troops.

The LTTE said their armed units had forced the Sri Lankan troops “to withdraw in total disarray” and said they lost 27 fighters, including 12 women.

Earlier the SLA said it had suffered 50 killed and about 650 wounded, and estimated over 100 Tigers had died.

The SLA had launched a two pronged offensive in the early hours on Sunday in the Pallamadu and Periamadu areas, with aerial and artillery support, the LTTE statement said.

The LTTE had “put up heavy resistance unleashing waves of artillery and mortar fire on the advancing troops,” the statement said further.

“Confronted with ferocious resistance and heavy casualties, Sri Lankan troops withdrew to their original positions leaving some of their dead soldiers and heavy weaponry in the battlefield,” the statement added.

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A soldier was killed and another wounded when the Liberation Tigers ambushed a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) patrol at Kathiraveli, 79 km. north of Batticaloa around 6.30 p.m. yesterday said sources.

The SLA soldiers at Vaakarai retaliated by firing shells towards Kathiraveli.

The SLA moved in to this coastal hamlet, 15 km. north of Vaakarai during an operation two weeks ago.

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The Voice of Tigers (VoT) radio said this morning that 27 Liberation Tigers, including 12 women fighters, died during the fierce fighting in the western coastal area of Mannar on Sunday.

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) claimed over one hundred Tigers were killed in the fighting.

According to Sri Lanka defence sources, at least 50 SLA soldiers were killed and over 700 wounded in the fighting.

The VoT said the Tigers have recovered the bodies of 23 Sri Lanka Army soldiers, and added arrangement are being made to hand over 15 bodies which are in good condition through the ICRC today. The other bodies have been cremated, the radio added.

According to the radio, the Tigers have recovered a large haul of weapons, including several T56-type assault riffles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG), Light Machine Guns, mortars, grenade launchers, and claymore mines, and ammunition.

The radio also gave the names of three Tigers killed in the fighting. They are: Lt.Shanthini (Thurairasa Ruganthini of Jaffna) Lt.Nanthaa (Sinniha Vicky of Trincomalee) and Lt.Ranjini (Shankar Indrani of Nedunkerni).

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Five soldiers were wounded and one was killed when an SLA convoy from Batticaloa town to Polannaruwa was hit by a claymore mine blast this morning around 10.40 a.m. near Chenkalady, 16 kilometers north of the eastern town.

Unconfirmed reports said that more soldiers could have been killed.

The wounded soldiers were rushed to the Batticaloa hospital while the dead soldier has been taken to Polannaruwa said sources.

Ex-Tamil militants operating with the SLA said that it is now difficult to determine the number of SLA personnel who are killed in such attacks because their bodies are immediately removed to Polannaruwa, 95 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa.

The claymore hit an army bus while it was less than 400 meters from the Kommathurai SLA base by the Chenkalady junction they said.

The attack took place in a high security zone defended and patrolled by the SLA, military trained Police and heavily armed cadres of the PLOTE, TELO and the Razeek group.

An armed cadre of a TELO night patrol was killed last Friday near this spot.

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Sri Lanka’s hardline monks took another step towards creating their ideal of a Buddhist state this week with their parliamentary party calling for a Constitutional change to make Buddhism the state religion.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a party of Buddhist monks, has called on the government to amend the Constitution to make Buddhism Sri Lanka’s State Religion, the Sunday Times reported.

JHU leader Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera handed over a draft bill to the Secretary General of Parliament last week, the paper said.

The bill seeks to amend Article 9 of the Constitution, which stipulates that, “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana…”

JHU sources told the Sunday Times the draft bill proposes to make Buddhism the “State Religion”, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Buddha Sasana.

The Commission proposed that “Buddhism is fitting to be recognized as the State Religion of Sri Lanka, as 70 percent of the population is Buddhist.”

A JHU spokesman told the paper that since Article 83 (a) of the Constitution stipulated that any Bill to amend Article 9, has to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and by the people at a referendum, the JHU was prepared to go before the people for a mandate.

He said as the present interpretation of Article 9 was “ambiguous and vague” and as there was no interpretation of what was meant by “foremost place”, it thus had no “value”.

The move by the monks follows in the wake of the country’s Supreme Court ruling that a government anti-conversion bill promoted by the JHU needed a referendum to be legal.

The court ruled in mid-August that the bill could be made law only if it gets the support of two thirds of parliamentarians and is approved by the people at a referendum.

The JHU or Pure Sinhala National Heritage, was formed shortly after President Chandrika Kumaratunga sacked the former government of Ranil Wickremesinghe on February 7. It was established by two extreme rightwing outfits – the Sinhala Urumaya (SU) and its associated organisation of Buddhist monks, the Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya (JSS).

In its election manifesto, the JHU paid lip-service to the rights of other groups, but declared that “the Sri Lankan state should be built, as in the past, according to Buddhist principles.”

Moreover the “national right of the Sinhala nation” is asserted above others on the basis that “national ownership of a country lies with the people who habitated it and built its civilisation and its culture,” according to the JHU’s election manifesto

The manifesto itself was launched in Kandy on March 2 – the day on which control of the Kandyian kingdom was formally ceded to the British in 1815.

The World Socialist Web Site reports that the JHU receives significant financial and political support from those sections of business, the military establishment and state bureaucracy whose careers and profits have derived from the war between the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers.

Though the JHU was formed barely months before the April 2 elections, the JHU won a an unexpected nine seats in the 225-seat Parliament, underlining the level of support amongst the Sinhalese population for its policies.

The JHU is opposed to negotiations with the LTTE and to international facilitation.

“We totally reject the present peace process as we believe it will only lead to the division of this country. We also reject the facilitation of Norway because it is partial towards the LTTE,” JHU Propaganda Secretary Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera said in April.

Moreover, the monks’ call for the elevation of Buddhism to state religion has already occurred in practice since independence and belies the enormous influence the Buddhist clergy wields in Sri Lanka.

All Sri Lankan leaders pay homage to the top Buddhist clergy as their first act after assuming power and are careful not to undermine the predominance of Buddhism while formulating policy.

The Sri Lankan military, meanwhile, is predominantly Sinhala Buddhist. All the Army’s official ceremonies are officiated by Buddhist monks and are closely bound with Buddhist ritual. Commanders of the SLA have to receive the blessings/imprimatur of the incumbent monk of the chief Buddhist clerical order of the country on assuming duties.

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