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Archive for June 12th, 2008

The killing of innocent people is war against humanity and the criminals should be punished with an iron-fist with no mercy.  Punishing the perpetrators of these crimes would emphasize that the use of this tactic to attain their goal, is not acceptable. Dividing the people along ethnic lines in Colombo or in the suburbs, or arresting innocent Tamil-speaking people in the South will add fuel to the already burning fire. The government is obligated and is morally accountable to the parliament to find out who the perpetrators are.  Peace-loving Sinhalese and Tamils have never wanted to see such bomb attacks targeting civilians and want to see them stopped.

South suffers effect of North and East war

Parents who send their children to school in buses, and parents, spouses, or relatives of those who work outside their home live in fear that they will not return home. The elderly and others in hospital do not know whether they will return home.  Religious devotees attending religious institutions do not know if they will return home.

The bombings target buses and trains loaded with people, creating a sense of fear among civilians.  The civilians in the South rarely felt the effects of the war between the LTTE and Sri Lankan armed forces while they fought in Sri Lanka’s North and East.  However, things have changed in the South following the series of bombings targeting commuters.

Roadside bombings on the rise in the South

The bombing of buses or trains, or the detonation of roadside fragmentation mines as buses or trains pass during rush hour is nothing short of cowardice.  Politically or militarily motivated attacks should never target innocents.  Attacking a military installation is one thing and is considered proper war “etiquette”.  However, it is ethically and morally unacceptable to unleash violence against unarmed people.

An attack carried out the week prior to the June 6 attack, targeted two trains. Two weeks before that, alert bus passengers noted two unattended parcels inside two different buses, one at Kadawatte and the other in Moratuwa. Bomb disposal squads were called in and confirmed that these parcels were, in fact, bombs and defused them.

Hours before Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan was to be sworn in as the first Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) on May 16 by President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed a police vehicle opposite the high-security zone killing 12 persons and injuring 70.

President condemns

the LTTE

On the eve of the attack on the two buses in the South, President Rajapaksa issued a statement condemning the LTTE bomb attacks saying: “Today’s explosion at Katubedda once again shows the LTTE’s brutality and lack of respect for human life…While unreservedly condemning repeated acts of outrageous brutality by the LTTE, in its cowardly strategy of targeting innocent civilians, I note that this is further proof of the LTTE’s frenzy over its major military setbacks in the North, and the loss of its hold in the Eastern Province…The continued targeting of innocent civilians by the LTTE must earn the outrage and opprobrium of all civilized societies, who can now see the reality of the LTTE’s unvarying commitment to violence and terror to achieve its narrow objectives.”

The President should hold those responsible accountable, otherwise the people will lose confidence in their government and in the security of their country. Whoever the perpetrators of the crimes are, the government in Colombo should bring those responsible to justice.  Incorrectly issuing condemnation letters in a desperate moment against a common enemy only allows the real perpetrators of the crime to roam free without punishment.

Tamils being arrested and detained

Security forces continue to arrest and detain Tamils caught at the scene of any of these acts. Regardless of whether they are lawyers or medical doctors, Tamils found near the scenes of these incidents are taken in for questioning.  The police then announce that they have arrested suspects only to release their detainees after questioning. Those wrongfully arrested are forever branded of having been involved in crimes under the terrorism prevention act and can never travel abroad.  So, it is not only those who have been victims in one of these bombings that suffer, the public at large does, as well.  And, the perpetrators of the crime escape without punishment.

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Sri Lankan soldiers are closing in on Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s hideout in the northern region of country, the Defense Ministry said.

“Security forces are attacking Mullaittiuvu, Prabhakaran’s hideout, from several directions,” Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka said, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site today. LTTE spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan wasn’t available for comment when contacted by telephone at its headquarters in the northern town of Kilinochchi.

The LTTE, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and India, has been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland for the past 25 years. The insurgency has killed more than 70,000 people.

Sri Lanka’s military is staging almost daily attacks on the northern region, the last area controlled by the rebels since they were driven from Eastern Province in July.

Prabhakaran may be based in an underground bunker in the Mullaittiuvu area, the ministry said.

The military has regained several hundred square kilometers where the Tamil Tigers held sway. “They have to march another 21 miles to achieve their final goal,” it said.

Sri Lanka’s government blamed Tamil rebels for killing 22 civilians and injuring more than 50 others in a bus bombing near the capital, Colombo, June 6. The claymore mine attack was the deadliest since at least 24 people were killed in a bus bombing near the city on April 25.

Fonseka said Prabhakaran was “unable to face the military onslaught” and was “cowardly” in attacking civilians.

Political Settlement

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has vowed to eradicate terrorism on the island while seeking a settlement with all Tamil groups. It ended a 2002 cease-fire with the LTTE in January, prompting the United Nations to call on the government and Tamil Tigers to prevent an escalation of violence against civilians.

Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people and Sinhalese almost 74 percent, according to a 2001 census. The government says it won’t consider any peace settlement with the LTTE that divides the country.

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Sri Lankan soldiers are closing in on Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s hideout in the northern region of country, the Defense Ministry said.

“Security forces are attacking Mullaittiuvu, Prabhakaran’s hideout, from several directions,” Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka said, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site today. LTTE spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan wasn’t available for comment when contacted by telephone at its headquarters in the northern town of Kilinochchi.

The LTTE, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and India, has been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland for the past 25 years. The insurgency has killed more than 70,000 people.

Sri Lanka’s military is staging almost daily attacks on the northern region, the last area controlled by the rebels since they were driven from Eastern Province in July.

Prabhakaran may be based in an underground bunker in the Mullaittiuvu area, the ministry said.

The military has regained several hundred square kilometers where the Tamil Tigers held sway. “They have to march another 21 miles to achieve their final goal,” it said.

Sri Lanka’s government blamed Tamil rebels for killing 22 civilians and injuring more than 50 others in a bus bombing near the capital, Colombo, June 6. The claymore mine attack was the deadliest since at least 24 people were killed in a bus bombing near the city on April 25.

Fonseka said Prabhakaran was “unable to face the military onslaught” and was “cowardly” in attacking civilians.

Political Settlement

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has vowed to eradicate terrorism on the island while seeking a settlement with all Tamil groups. It ended a 2002 cease-fire with the LTTE in January, prompting the United Nations to call on the government and Tamil Tigers to prevent an escalation of violence against civilians.

Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people and Sinhalese almost 74 percent, according to a 2001 census. The government says it won’t consider any peace settlement with the LTTE that divides the country.

Read Full Post »

Sri Lankan soldiers are closing in on Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s hideout in the northern region of country, the Defense Ministry said.

“Security forces are attacking Mullaittiuvu, Prabhakaran’s hideout, from several directions,” Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka said, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site today. LTTE spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan wasn’t available for comment when contacted by telephone at its headquarters in the northern town of Kilinochchi.

The LTTE, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and India, has been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland for the past 25 years. The insurgency has killed more than 70,000 people.

Sri Lanka’s military is staging almost daily attacks on the northern region, the last area controlled by the rebels since they were driven from Eastern Province in July.

Prabhakaran may be based in an underground bunker in the Mullaittiuvu area, the ministry said.

The military has regained several hundred square kilometers where the Tamil Tigers held sway. “They have to march another 21 miles to achieve their final goal,” it said.

Sri Lanka’s government blamed Tamil rebels for killing 22 civilians and injuring more than 50 others in a bus bombing near the capital, Colombo, June 6. The claymore mine attack was the deadliest since at least 24 people were killed in a bus bombing near the city on April 25.

Fonseka said Prabhakaran was “unable to face the military onslaught” and was “cowardly” in attacking civilians.

Political Settlement

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has vowed to eradicate terrorism on the island while seeking a settlement with all Tamil groups. It ended a 2002 cease-fire with the LTTE in January, prompting the United Nations to call on the government and Tamil Tigers to prevent an escalation of violence against civilians.

Tamils make up 11.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people and Sinhalese almost 74 percent, according to a 2001 census. The government says it won’t consider any peace settlement with the LTTE that divides the country.

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A Toronto man has been arrested in Sri Lanka after police seized an array of electronics, including heat-seeking devices, that were shipped from Canada.

Kajan Irampamoorthy, a 20-year-old student, is being held in the capital Colombo and questioned about whether the materials were destined for the Tamil Tigers guerrillas.

He was taken into custody more than two weeks ago, shortly after he arrived in the country, according to government officials. He is a permanent resident of Canada.

The seized materials allegedly include an AimShot HeatSeeker 3500b, which uses thermal sensors to locate targets by detecting their movements and body heat.

A description of the device on the manufacturer’s Web site says it uses the “latest military and law enforcement thermal heat sensor technology” but that it can also be used for hunting or search-and-rescue.

Police also seized PDAs, CDs, and five bags of chemicals similar to aircraft grease. The items had apparently been shipped by courier from an address in Scarborough, Ont.

Investigators in Canada and Sri Lanka are now trying to figure out what Mr. Irampamoorthy was doing in Colombo and why he was in possession of the electronics and chemicals.

But a spokesman for the Canadian Tamil Congress said members of Sri Lanka’s ethic Tamil minority are frequently arrested without cause in Colombo.

“They are arresting people left, right and centre lately,” said David Poopalapillai. “Arresting Tamils, it’s a daily occurrence and sometimes they twist the story.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it had no information on the matter. Mr. Irampamoorthy was traveling on a Sri Lankan passport. There was no answer yesterday at his last known residence in Markham, Ont. His cellphone number and e-mail address also went unanswered.

Sri Lanka is engulfed in a civil war between Tamil Tigers guerrillas seeking an independent homeland for the country’s Tamil minority and government forces trying to keep the country united.

Toronto is home to one of the world’s largest populations of ethnic Tamils.

Many Toronto Tamils are sympathetic to the guerrillas, considering them freedom fighters defending Tamils from decades of government abuses.

But the Tigers are a listed terrorist organization under Canadian law because of their tactics, which have included hundreds of suicide bombings and the assassinations of such political figures as Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

An RCMP investigation called Project Osaluki has been probing the Tamil Tigers’ suspected Canadian fundraising network. Police say money collected in Toronto and Montreal is being shipped to the guerrillas.

A separate investigation, Project ONeedle, resulted in the arrests of three people in Canada and several more in the United States in 2006. They are accused of procuring weapons and equipment for the Tigers.

A shaky ceasefire between government and rebel forces collapsed earlier this year. Human rights groups are alarmed by the war’s mounting toll of civilians.

At least 23 died and 67 were wounded last Friday when bombs exploded on two buses. The President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the blasts showed the rebels’ “brutality and lack of respect for human life.”

The Tigers did not take responsibility for the attacks but issued a statement blaming a government special forces unit for the death of civilians killed in a claymore mine explosion.

Meanwhile, a Toronto woman said on Thursday her 71-year-old father had also been taken into custody in Colombo and that the family had so far been unable to determine his fate.

Christista Fernando said she suspects police arrested her father, Patrick Fernandes, on Monday in an attempt to secure a bribe for his release. She said she is worried because he has a heart condition. “I don’t know what happened to him,” she said. “He’s a lovable person, he’s a very nice man.”

(National Post)

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Sri Lanka’s military is poised to capture the leader of the Tamil Tigers and is surging towards his jungle hideout, the defence ministry said Thursday.

Government forces were just 21 kilometres (13 miles) away from achieving their “final goal” of capturing rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the ministry said, quoting army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka.

He said security forces were attacking Mullaitivu, the northeastern coastal district where the 53-year-old Tamil separatist leader was believed to based, from several fronts.

“The security forces are attacking Mullaitivu, Prabhakaran’s hideout, from several directions,” Fonseka said. “The army’s aim is to capture Prabhakaran — who is holed up in a bunker — alive.”

He said four divisions of the army would “surge” towards the hideout of Prabhakaran who is wanted in Sri Lanka as well as neighbouring India for the 1991 slaying of former Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi.

“They (troops) have to march forward another 21 kilometres to achieve the final goals,” the army chief said adding that security forces had already captured “several hundred square kilometres” from the guerrillas.

It is not the first time in the decades-old conflict that the Sri Lankan authorities have said they were on the verge of capturing or killing Prabhakaran.

The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has also been reported dead or injured on numerous occassions.

The government pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered turuce in January, and says it has killed 4,196 rebels in fighting since the start of the year.

The strength of the LTTE is not clear, but the military said at the beginning of this year that the Tigers had about 3,000 combatants. The figure was later raised to about 5,000 by military authorities.

The government does not allow journalists to freely visit frontline areas.

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Sea Tigers launched a pre-dawn attack on a Navy outpost at Erukkilampiddi in the Mannar Island yesterday resulting in a fierce sea battle killing at least eight from the both sides and destroying several boats, the military and rebels claimed.

Sailors successfully repulsed a Sea Tiger attack on the Navy outpost at Erukkilampiddi around 2 a.m. yesterday killing at least five Tigers including a senior Sea Tiger leader ˜Siriman”, Navy Spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake said. He also claimed that a large number of others were injured in the battle.

He said that in the sea battle one Tiger boat was destroyed and as other boats began fleeing naval gunboats started surrounding them.

Three sailors were killed and two others sustained injuries in the clash,” he said.

According to the spokesman a group of Sea Tigers had come in six boats and launched the attack on the Navy. Due to the heavy retaliation, the rebel boats withdrew from the scene with their casualties, he said.

Soon after the incident Air Force MI 24 helicopters which were called to the scene launched an attack on the withdrawing boats. The air assault had been launched around 4.45 a.m., targeting the fleeing rebel boats fleeing towards Vidattaltivu area, a senior Air Force spokesman said.

Meanwhile the Tamilnet website claimed that Sea Tigers had brought the entire installation under their control after following the attack.

The Sea Tiger marines launched the lightning seaborne strike around 2 a.m. yesterday and brought the entire installation under their full control within 10 minutes,” the website said quoting LTTE sources.

It also said that four of its members and at least ten sailors were killed in the sea battle. The Tigers were in full control of the navy installation for almost two hours and destroyed the camp, the web site stated.

Citing reasons for the attack, the web site said that the mission had been carried out to mark the completion of two months of the killing of the Sea Tigers special engineering division head Gadaffi, who was killed in a Government forces attack.

Rejecting the LTTE claims, the Navy Spokesman said that “the LTTE was only making claims but the attack was repulsed by the Navy successfully.

(more…)

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At least seven combatants were killed on Wednesday as the Tamil Tigers launched a pre-dawn sea-borne attack on a Sri Lankan naval detachment in the north-western island of Mannar.

A flotilla of six boats of the Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), attacked the outpost at Erukkalampiddi, a military official said.

The site is located about eight kilometres northwest of Mannar town.

“The sailors manning the outpost retaliated the attack effectively and sunk one of the LTTE boats, killing four LTTE cadres on board. Three navy personnel were killed while a few others were wounded,” Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told IANS.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry said in a statement that Russian-built MI-24 gunship helicopters engaged the fleeing LTTE boats in the Gulf of Mannar around 4.45 am.

It said that among the LTTE cadres killed in the battle was its leader Sirimaran, who led this attack.

The latest strike has come amid fierce land battles between advancing government troops and the LTTE over the past one year, leaving thousands dead on both sides.

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website reported that the attack was carried out by a special unit of the Sea Tigers.

It said the operation was in memory of Lt. Col. Kadaafi, a commander of the Sea Tigers Special Engineering Division who was killed two months ago.

It also claimed that the rebels “seized arms and military hardware, including a radar equipment” before escaping.

“The Tigers have seized 50-caliber machine guns, 81 mm mortars, Light Machine Guns, Rocket Launchers and several other military hardware from the camp,” it quoted the rebel sources as saying.

TamilNet added that four guerrillas were killed in the attack.

The Sea Tigers carried out a similar a pre-dawn sea-borne attack on a naval detachment in an islet in the heavily guarded northern Jaffna peninsula May 29.

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Sri Lanka Army has been increasing deployment of fresh troops along the Forward Defence Lines with the supply of military hardware. The coastal stretches along the Jaffna lagoon have also been strengthened jointly by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and the SLA. Extended hours of curfew and increased restrictions on vehicular and civilian movement, blocking all crossings across the main roads, have caused tension among the residents of Jaffna. Additional troops have been brought to Jaffna city within the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Jaffna Commander of the SLA, Maj. Gen. G. A. Chandrasiri, in an interview to the editorial representative of Jaffna’s daily, Uthayan, on Wednesday explained the move as improved security measures in the wake of the recent Sea Tiger attack on Chi’ruththeevu island and cited an alleged announcement by the Tigers to the civilians along the coastal areas to ensure their security during the confrontations. The SLA in Jaffna peninsula, hence, is forced to fortify the security measures throughout the peninsula, he told the paper.

The two-and-a-half-hour extension of the curfew hours Saturday is a part of the security measures introduced while no one will be permitted to cross the main roads when the roads are in use by the SLA convoys until further notice, he added.

SLA has, in the last few days, amassed large number of its troops with military equipments in all parts of the peninsula.

All main roads in the peninsula remain closed for public traffic morning and evening daily when the SLA convoys use them.

Even the vehicles of International and local Non-government Organizations are not permitted to cross the main roads when they are being used by SLA convoys and these vehicles have to wait for more than two hours.

The extended hours of curfew Saturday and the restrictions on movement of public imposed again besides the ban on fishing by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) have severely affected normalcy of life in Jaffna peninsula.

The relaxation of the above restrictions adopted after the earlier meeting of people’s representatives with the SLA commander at Palaali Military Head Quarters has been withdrawn along with the extension of curfew hours.

All cellular phone connections in the peninsula still remain cut off since Saturday. The CDMA mobile phones were also disconnected from Sunday.

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The Sri Lanka Army’s 58 Division today captured a 500m area of LTTE defences at Munnikkaai, general area Adampan North. The 57 Division is now advancing on Periyamadu West via Palampiddi. Await a detailed update on Weli Oya Operation.

Meanwhile sources told this site that the LTTE attack on the naval detachment at Erukkalampiddi was in retaliation against the Navy detachment’s involvement in diverting Tamil civilians fleeing to India from Mannar battle zone to refugee camps of the government.

The LTTE’s hope is to flood South India with refugees for political gain in that country. The capture of refugee boats by the Navy and voluntary surrender by Tamils to the Security Forces is also exposing the LTTE’s military positions, strength and strategy.

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