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Archive for September 16th, 2004

COLOMBO MARCH 23. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has reportedly sent two pistol groups here to kill Tamil informants and those in the island’s military intelligence who were behind last year’s killing of senior rebel leaders, a newspaper report said here today.

The issue of the Tigers’ pistol groups, which finds mention at times in sections of the media, has resurfaced with last week’s gunning down of a Tamil informant, Ragupathi, on the outskirts of the city — reportedly the fourth “informant” who was killed by the LTTE’s pistol group for his role in the Army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol which eliminated some LTTE leaders inside rebel-held territory before last year’s ceasefire agreement.

Military analysts see the patrol, which reportedly eliminated some Tiger leaders, as among the factors that pushed the rebels towards cessation of hostilities.

“For more than 15 months now, Tiger cadre had launched a bitter campaign to eliminate the informants and punish civilians in the East who have been helping them”, a report in The Sunday Times said.

All four victims till now reportedly hailed from Batticaloa district, where the Army patrol is said to have been active.

The newspaper gave the name of the first of such victims as V. Vidyarthan, “who was abducted and killed” last January in Batticaloa.

Last July, Lance-Corporal Savundarajan, “was abducted and killed”, also in Batticaloa.

In December, another informant, Ganeshamoorthy Tillekerajah, was shot dead. Ragupathi, who was shot dead by “two men on a motorcycle” on March 11 was the fourth victim, the newspaper said.

The Patrol had run into a controversial fiasco before the ceasefire was signed last February, when police raided one of their safe houses and the operation which was under wraps, came into the public.

A presidential inquiry commission is not probing the fiasco, the newspaper reported.

SLMM head meets LTTE commander

The new head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Trygve Tellefsen, met the LTTE Trincomalee area commander, “Colonel” Pathuman, and the Trincomalee district political head, Tilak on March 21, the Tamilnet web site reported.

Maj. Gen. Tellefsen, who has taken charge from Trond Furuhovde, discussed issues relating to movement of LTTE cadres in the eastern Trincomalee district, the report said.

The three eastern districts, which together have a near equal mix of the island’s three main ethnicities is a volatile flashpoint and is considered by political analysts as the “weakest spot” in the fragile peace process.

Copyright 2000 – 2004 The Hindu

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COLOMBO MARCH 23. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has reportedly sent two pistol groups here to kill Tamil informants and those in the island’s military intelligence who were behind last year’s killing of senior rebel leaders, a newspaper report said here today.

The issue of the Tigers’ pistol groups, which finds mention at times in sections of the media, has resurfaced with last week’s gunning down of a Tamil informant, Ragupathi, on the outskirts of the city — reportedly the fourth “informant” who was killed by the LTTE’s pistol group for his role in the Army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol which eliminated some LTTE leaders inside rebel-held territory before last year’s ceasefire agreement.

Military analysts see the patrol, which reportedly eliminated some Tiger leaders, as among the factors that pushed the rebels towards cessation of hostilities.

“For more than 15 months now, Tiger cadre had launched a bitter campaign to eliminate the informants and punish civilians in the East who have been helping them”, a report in The Sunday Times said.

All four victims till now reportedly hailed from Batticaloa district, where the Army patrol is said to have been active.

The newspaper gave the name of the first of such victims as V. Vidyarthan, “who was abducted and killed” last January in Batticaloa.

Last July, Lance-Corporal Savundarajan, “was abducted and killed”, also in Batticaloa.

In December, another informant, Ganeshamoorthy Tillekerajah, was shot dead. Ragupathi, who was shot dead by “two men on a motorcycle” on March 11 was the fourth victim, the newspaper said.

The Patrol had run into a controversial fiasco before the ceasefire was signed last February, when police raided one of their safe houses and the operation which was under wraps, came into the public.

A presidential inquiry commission is not probing the fiasco, the newspaper reported.

SLMM head meets LTTE commander

The new head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Trygve Tellefsen, met the LTTE Trincomalee area commander, “Colonel” Pathuman, and the Trincomalee district political head, Tilak on March 21, the Tamilnet web site reported.

Maj. Gen. Tellefsen, who has taken charge from Trond Furuhovde, discussed issues relating to movement of LTTE cadres in the eastern Trincomalee district, the report said.

The three eastern districts, which together have a near equal mix of the island’s three main ethnicities is a volatile flashpoint and is considered by political analysts as the “weakest spot” in the fragile peace process.

Copyright 2000 – 2004 The Hindu

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COLOMBO MARCH 23. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has reportedly sent two pistol groups here to kill Tamil informants and those in the island’s military intelligence who were behind last year’s killing of senior rebel leaders, a newspaper report said here today.

The issue of the Tigers’ pistol groups, which finds mention at times in sections of the media, has resurfaced with last week’s gunning down of a Tamil informant, Ragupathi, on the outskirts of the city — reportedly the fourth “informant” who was killed by the LTTE’s pistol group for his role in the Army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol which eliminated some LTTE leaders inside rebel-held territory before last year’s ceasefire agreement.

Military analysts see the patrol, which reportedly eliminated some Tiger leaders, as among the factors that pushed the rebels towards cessation of hostilities.

“For more than 15 months now, Tiger cadre had launched a bitter campaign to eliminate the informants and punish civilians in the East who have been helping them”, a report in The Sunday Times said.

All four victims till now reportedly hailed from Batticaloa district, where the Army patrol is said to have been active.

The newspaper gave the name of the first of such victims as V. Vidyarthan, “who was abducted and killed” last January in Batticaloa.

Last July, Lance-Corporal Savundarajan, “was abducted and killed”, also in Batticaloa.

In December, another informant, Ganeshamoorthy Tillekerajah, was shot dead. Ragupathi, who was shot dead by “two men on a motorcycle” on March 11 was the fourth victim, the newspaper said.

The Patrol had run into a controversial fiasco before the ceasefire was signed last February, when police raided one of their safe houses and the operation which was under wraps, came into the public.

A presidential inquiry commission is not probing the fiasco, the newspaper reported.

SLMM head meets LTTE commander

The new head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Trygve Tellefsen, met the LTTE Trincomalee area commander, “Colonel” Pathuman, and the Trincomalee district political head, Tilak on March 21, the Tamilnet web site reported.

Maj. Gen. Tellefsen, who has taken charge from Trond Furuhovde, discussed issues relating to movement of LTTE cadres in the eastern Trincomalee district, the report said.

The three eastern districts, which together have a near equal mix of the island’s three main ethnicities is a volatile flashpoint and is considered by political analysts as the “weakest spot” in the fragile peace process.

Copyright 2000 – 2004 The Hindu

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Another safe house and another botch-up. This is what on the surface at least appears to have happened when eight youth were murdered in cold blood as they lay asleep on the floor of a two storied house at Kottawa off the Malabe Road.

Already identified as being members of what is now termed the Karuna faction, the killings are another in where more than a dozen people have been murdered over this last month. All the killings have been attributed to the LTTE taking revenge on a renegade Tiger.

Theories

The only credible assumption to this theory may arise from the fact that it was the LTTE that informed journalists in the south of the brutal murders at Kottawa last Sunday.

A senior LTTE cadre telephoned a well known Tamil journalist just 10 minutes after the shooting and told him that persons identified as being Karuna loyalists have been murdered at a house in Kottawa off Malabe Road. The police and apparently the military too were later alerted to the killings by the journalists who acted on the LTTE tip.

Since the murders last week there have been many theories and counter theories. The Kottawa house rented to give shelter to the renegades is believed to have served as a safe-house. Whether the seven Tamils and one Sinhalese killed in the shoot-out were working as spies for Sri Lanka’s military is not yet established. The Defence Ministry and the army however have vehemently denied such speculation insisting that neither the seven Tamils nor the one Sinhalese man had any links to the military or police.

What they were doing inside this house – who they were waiting for; what was the purpose of their having rented out this house; and for how long did they intend to stay; are all questions that still beg answer. The fact is the entire investigation is shrouded in secrecy and the police are under very strict instructions not to leak information. Reliable sources said the rent paid per month for this house was Rs. 11,000. Who paid the rent is not yet clear.

One aspect however is crystal clear and that is that these killings clearly portray the fact that despite a ceasefire, the violence that has plagued Sri Lanka for two decades is nowhere near ending.

Neighbours living around the mystery house maintain they noticed nothing amiss before the killings, but said later they “heard” many vehicles pass their homes which they believed were visitors for people in this house. Asked to describe what kind of vehicles they were, they say they do not know.

Facilitators pessimistic

The LTTE being the first to inform the south about the killings said from the inception that seven of those murdered were part of the Karuna faction. The LTTE however have not claimed responsibility but insist the killings were carried out by dissidents within the Karuna group. The LTTE later announced on its website that these victims had been killed by “dissidents” within the Karuna faction and that the killers had later sought refuge with the LTTE last Sunday morning, having fled Colombo after committing the murders. Hours before the government was even aware of the killings some web sites both Tamil and foreign had broken the story.

The government has refrained from identifying the LTTE as the killers. Deputy Defence Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake would only trot out the same lame statement he made when an attempt was made on the life of UPFA Minister Douglas Devananda by saying none of the murders or attempted murders are a threat to the peace process or the ceasefire agreement between the LTTE and the government. According to Wickremanayake the killings are all a result “of internal conflicts” within the LTTE and so, he is of the opinion the government need not worry.

Wickremanayake’s complacency is not matched by the international community. Deputy Chief of Mission, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Hagrup Haukland three days after the Kottawa murders said “as far as we are concerned this is a very serious incident and one that certainly does not make our work any easier on the ground.”

His comments are backed by the Norwegian facilitators. Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgessen told journalists last week following his meetings with both the government and the LTTE that the ceasefire is very seriously under threat, warning that such incidents all contribute to an erosion in confidence building measures to kick-start peace talks. “What we see is a frozen war starting to melt on the edges” Helgessen said, maintaining that recent violence in the east and Colombo had contributed greatly to a high degree of mistrust between the government and the LTTE. “The ground situation is unhelpful in restoring confidence between the two parties,” he reiterated.

But Helgessen’s pessimism was quickly downplayed two days later when Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera was quoted saying Oslo is exaggerating the current situation and that the peace process is nowhere near breaking down.

Whatever the government’s position on the overall ground situation, they are heavily contradicted by members and organisations of the international community who have been closely monitoring the conflict situation in Sri Lanka.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a U.S. based independent nongovernmental organisation said in a media release Wednesday, “A spate of killings between factions of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) threatens Sri Lanka’s ceasefire… More than a dozen people have been murdered over the last month in apparently politically motivated killings attributed either to the LTTE or a faction led by the LTTE’s former eastern commander, Colonel Karuna, who broke away from the LTTE in March 2004.”

No army personnel

HRW’s release further referred to last Sundays killings in Kottawa saying, “Even before the police were notified of the killings, the LTTE announced that these victims had been killed by ‘dissidents’ within Karuna’s own faction, and stated further that the killers had sought and received refuge with the LTTE.” The killers according to the LTTE contacted the Tigers after arriving in the Amparai District on Sunday morning.

The LTTE commenting on the incident said in their website that “dissidents within the renegade Karuna group killed seven associates of Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan (Karuna) because of differences within the group.” LTTE also said that Karuna associates “were accommodated at a military intelligence safe house in Kottawa, in the outskirts of Colombo.”

The LTTE continues to accuse the government of being involved with pro-Karuna loyalists and have accused the army of using these men to serve as military intelligence operatives in the east. The government has vehemently denied the accusation. However, sections of the local media as well and international press have reported that the government’s denials lack credibility.

The seven dead Tamils at Kottawa were identified as Kuhanesan, Castro, Kesavan, Ruban, Atparan, Vikky and Vimalkanth.

Kuhanesan acted as the second in command to Karuna in the renegade group. According to press reports and the LTTE’s media release, Kuhanesan was one of the 14 members of the renegade group arrested in June at a Buddhist temple in Hingurakgoda at Polonnaruwa, before being released apparently at the intervention of military intelligence.

Defence Secretary Cyril Herath denied the eighth man among the dead was an army intelligence officer. “The Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Army Headquarters categorically denies army’s involvement in the above incident and Sri Lanka Army further assures that no military intelligence operative is among the dead,” the Defence Ministry stated in a press release. The military claims the eighth man was a tractor driver from Polonnaruwa unknown to the military and government.

Credibility in doubt

What he was doing with the Karuna associates is however a significant aspect to this incident. The fact that the body of a Sinhalese was found at the scene of the killings places the military and the government in a bad light, lending doubt to the credibility of their denials that the men were not part of a para-military group working for the Sri Lanka Army.

Time is running out

Reports of Bandaranaike escorting Karuna to Singapore first appeared on Thursday week before, when an MP of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) protested the involvement of the Tourism Minister in assisting Karuna.

Bandaranaike subsequently denied any involvement but the government did not clarify the matter further other than to get a state sponsored daily to issue a one paragraph story last Monday denying The Sunday Leader report.

When District MP for Jaffna, M. K. Sivajilingam raised the matter in parliament, Anura Bandaranaike said, “I have never had any contact with (Karuna) before his defection or after his defection from the LTTE. I have never indulged in the part time of accompanying unknown persons to any destination in the world.”

However, Sivajilingam, speaking to The Sunday Leader, said Bandaranaike along with two Special Task Force (STF) personnel accompanied Karuna to Singapore. He also said Karuna did not use the VIP lounge at the Katunayake airport but instead used the lounge meant for intelligence officials.

Sivajilingam said that it has finally been proved beyond doubt that cabinet ministers have strong links with Karuna and declared that the Sri Lanka government and the President should not continue to live in denial.

“We are not worried about whether Bandaranaike accompanied Karuna or not but the real issue is that the government is attempting to conceal the fact that it has links with Karuna. The government and the President should stop lying to the nation that Karuna is not close to the government for now it is an established fact,” he said.

The LTTE meantime increased its charges against the government and the latter’s involvement with Karuna and his loyalists. LTTE Political Wing Leader S. P. Tamilselvan issued a dire warning to the government saying that it was pushing Sri Lanka to a situation of war. “The LTTE will not start the war but if the government imposes it on us we are ready to fight,” he said. Elaborating further he said, “If the government fails to realise the ground realities we will have to take some serious decisions.”

And with the warnings from Tamilselvan and Vidar Helgessen came another. This one was from Major General Trond Furuhovde, head of Sri Lanka’s Monitoring Mission who rubber-stamped what his deputy, Hagrup Haukland also said. “The SLMM has strongly urged the government to take meaningful and effective action to curb the activities of paramilitary groups including that of Karuna faction and the EPDP,” Furuhovde, was quoted telling S. P. Tamilselvan, when they both met in Kilinochchi.

(www.sundayleader.lk , 1st August, 2004)

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Interior Minister John Amaratunga on Friday said he was anxiously waiting to receive a letter from the President directing him to launch investigations into the police raid at the ‘safe house’ at Millennium City, Athurugiriya.

The Minister said that he had not received any letter from the President regarding this issue and added he will give an appropriate answer when he received the letter.

(www.dailynews.lk)

Read Full Post »

Another safe house and another botch-up. This is what on the surface at least appears to have happened when eight youth were murdered in cold blood as they lay asleep on the floor of a two storied house at Kottawa off the Malabe Road.

Already identified as being members of what is now termed the Karuna faction, the killings are another in where more than a dozen people have been murdered over this last month. All the killings have been attributed to the LTTE taking revenge on a renegade Tiger.

Theories

The only credible assumption to this theory may arise from the fact that it was the LTTE that informed journalists in the south of the brutal murders at Kottawa last Sunday.

A senior LTTE cadre telephoned a well known Tamil journalist just 10 minutes after the shooting and told him that persons identified as being Karuna loyalists have been murdered at a house in Kottawa off Malabe Road. The police and apparently the military too were later alerted to the killings by the journalists who acted on the LTTE tip.

Since the murders last week there have been many theories and counter theories. The Kottawa house rented to give shelter to the renegades is believed to have served as a safe-house. Whether the seven Tamils and one Sinhalese killed in the shoot-out were working as spies for Sri Lanka’s military is not yet established. The Defence Ministry and the army however have vehemently denied such speculation insisting that neither the seven Tamils nor the one Sinhalese man had any links to the military or police.

What they were doing inside this house – who they were waiting for; what was the purpose of their having rented out this house; and for how long did they intend to stay; are all questions that still beg answer. The fact is the entire investigation is shrouded in secrecy and the police are under very strict instructions not to leak information. Reliable sources said the rent paid per month for this house was Rs. 11,000. Who paid the rent is not yet clear.

One aspect however is crystal clear and that is that these killings clearly portray the fact that despite a ceasefire, the violence that has plagued Sri Lanka for two decades is nowhere near ending.

Neighbours living around the mystery house maintain they noticed nothing amiss before the killings, but said later they “heard” many vehicles pass their homes which they believed were visitors for people in this house. Asked to describe what kind of vehicles they were, they say they do not know.

Facilitators pessimistic

The LTTE being the first to inform the south about the killings said from the inception that seven of those murdered were part of the Karuna faction. The LTTE however have not claimed responsibility but insist the killings were carried out by dissidents within the Karuna group. The LTTE later announced on its website that these victims had been killed by “dissidents” within the Karuna faction and that the killers had later sought refuge with the LTTE last Sunday morning, having fled Colombo after committing the murders. Hours before the government was even aware of the killings some web sites both Tamil and foreign had broken the story.

The government has refrained from identifying the LTTE as the killers. Deputy Defence Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake would only trot out the same lame statement he made when an attempt was made on the life of UPFA Minister Douglas Devananda by saying none of the murders or attempted murders are a threat to the peace process or the ceasefire agreement between the LTTE and the government. According to Wickremanayake the killings are all a result “of internal conflicts” within the LTTE and so, he is of the opinion the government need not worry.

Wickremanayake’s complacency is not matched by the international community. Deputy Chief of Mission, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Hagrup Haukland three days after the Kottawa murders said “as far as we are concerned this is a very serious incident and one that certainly does not make our work any easier on the ground.”

His comments are backed by the Norwegian facilitators. Norway’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgessen told journalists last week following his meetings with both the government and the LTTE that the ceasefire is very seriously under threat, warning that such incidents all contribute to an erosion in confidence building measures to kick-start peace talks. “What we see is a frozen war starting to melt on the edges” Helgessen said, maintaining that recent violence in the east and Colombo had contributed greatly to a high degree of mistrust between the government and the LTTE. “The ground situation is unhelpful in restoring confidence between the two parties,” he reiterated.

But Helgessen’s pessimism was quickly downplayed two days later when Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera was quoted saying Oslo is exaggerating the current situation and that the peace process is nowhere near breaking down.

Whatever the government’s position on the overall ground situation, they are heavily contradicted by members and organisations of the international community who have been closely monitoring the conflict situation in Sri Lanka.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a U.S. based independent nongovernmental organisation said in a media release Wednesday, “A spate of killings between factions of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) threatens Sri Lanka’s ceasefire… More than a dozen people have been murdered over the last month in apparently politically motivated killings attributed either to the LTTE or a faction led by the LTTE’s former eastern commander, Colonel Karuna, who broke away from the LTTE in March 2004.”

No army personnel

HRW’s release further referred to last Sundays killings in Kottawa saying, “Even before the police were notified of the killings, the LTTE announced that these victims had been killed by ‘dissidents’ within Karuna’s own faction, and stated further that the killers had sought and received refuge with the LTTE.” The killers according to the LTTE contacted the Tigers after arriving in the Amparai District on Sunday morning.

The LTTE commenting on the incident said in their website that “dissidents within the renegade Karuna group killed seven associates of Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan (Karuna) because of differences within the group.” LTTE also said that Karuna associates “were accommodated at a military intelligence safe house in Kottawa, in the outskirts of Colombo.”

The LTTE continues to accuse the government of being involved with pro-Karuna loyalists and have accused the army of using these men to serve as military intelligence operatives in the east. The government has vehemently denied the accusation. However, sections of the local media as well and international press have reported that the government’s denials lack credibility.

The seven dead Tamils at Kottawa were identified as Kuhanesan, Castro, Kesavan, Ruban, Atparan, Vikky and Vimalkanth.

Kuhanesan acted as the second in command to Karuna in the renegade group. According to press reports and the LTTE’s media release, Kuhanesan was one of the 14 members of the renegade group arrested in June at a Buddhist temple in Hingurakgoda at Polonnaruwa, before being released apparently at the intervention of military intelligence.

Defence Secretary Cyril Herath denied the eighth man among the dead was an army intelligence officer. “The Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Army Headquarters categorically denies army’s involvement in the above incident and Sri Lanka Army further assures that no military intelligence operative is among the dead,” the Defence Ministry stated in a press release. The military claims the eighth man was a tractor driver from Polonnaruwa unknown to the military and government.

Credibility in doubt

What he was doing with the Karuna associates is however a significant aspect to this incident. The fact that the body of a Sinhalese was found at the scene of the killings places the military and the government in a bad light, lending doubt to the credibility of their denials that the men were not part of a para-military group working for the Sri Lanka Army.

Time is running out

Reports of Bandaranaike escorting Karuna to Singapore first appeared on Thursday week before, when an MP of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) protested the involvement of the Tourism Minister in assisting Karuna.

Bandaranaike subsequently denied any involvement but the government did not clarify the matter further other than to get a state sponsored daily to issue a one paragraph story last Monday denying The Sunday Leader report.

When District MP for Jaffna, M. K. Sivajilingam raised the matter in parliament, Anura Bandaranaike said, “I have never had any contact with (Karuna) before his defection or after his defection from the LTTE. I have never indulged in the part time of accompanying unknown persons to any destination in the world.”

However, Sivajilingam, speaking to The Sunday Leader, said Bandaranaike along with two Special Task Force (STF) personnel accompanied Karuna to Singapore. He also said Karuna did not use the VIP lounge at the Katunayake airport but instead used the lounge meant for intelligence officials.

Sivajilingam said that it has finally been proved beyond doubt that cabinet ministers have strong links with Karuna and declared that the Sri Lanka government and the President should not continue to live in denial.

“We are not worried about whether Bandaranaike accompanied Karuna or not but the real issue is that the government is attempting to conceal the fact that it has links with Karuna. The government and the President should stop lying to the nation that Karuna is not close to the government for now it is an established fact,” he said.

The LTTE meantime increased its charges against the government and the latter’s involvement with Karuna and his loyalists. LTTE Political Wing Leader S. P. Tamilselvan issued a dire warning to the government saying that it was pushing Sri Lanka to a situation of war. “The LTTE will not start the war but if the government imposes it on us we are ready to fight,” he said. Elaborating further he said, “If the government fails to realise the ground realities we will have to take some serious decisions.”

And with the warnings from Tamilselvan and Vidar Helgessen came another. This one was from Major General Trond Furuhovde, head of Sri Lanka’s Monitoring Mission who rubber-stamped what his deputy, Hagrup Haukland also said. “The SLMM has strongly urged the government to take meaningful and effective action to curb the activities of paramilitary groups including that of Karuna faction and the EPDP,” Furuhovde, was quoted telling S. P. Tamilselvan, when they both met in Kilinochchi.

(www.sundayleader.lk , 1st August, 2004)

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Interior Minister John Amaratunga on Friday said he was anxiously waiting to receive a letter from the President directing him to launch investigations into the police raid at the ‘safe house’ at Millennium City, Athurugiriya.

The Minister said that he had not received any letter from the President regarding this issue and added he will give an appropriate answer when he received the letter.

(www.dailynews.lk)

Read Full Post »

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