8:46 AM

An Obama-Biden Foreign Policy

"Terror is a tactic," Biden has said. "Terror is not a philosophy." It is a mantra that everybody in US politics should be required to chant each morning before work, even if it is slightly inaccurate. ("Terror" is actually an emotion. "Terrorism," however, is a tactic – a political tool or technique, more precisely – that can be used in support of a wide variety of causes. It is as misleading to declare war on terrorism as it would be to declare war on propaganda.)

Barack Obama, we are told, chose Joe Biden to be his running mate because he needed an older man, more experienced in foreign policy, to fill the gaps in his resume and reassure American voters that the United States would be safe under an Obama presidency. That’s true, but it is assumed that he also chose him because Biden’s views on foreign policy are not radically different from his own. Since American foreign policy still affects almost everybody in the world, that makes Biden’s views very interesting.

Joe Biden, now 65, has been a senator since he was 29. For almost half that time he has been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he now heads. He has been around long enough to leave plenty of evidence about his view and his reflexes, and it is safe to say that he qualifies as a liberal interventionist (or, as they say on the other side of the Atlantic, a liberal imperialist). He has never met an international problem that he didn’t think the US should help to solve.

Unlike the neo-conservatives, who are brothers under the skin to the liberal interventionists, Biden does not believe that every problem in the world can be solved by the application of US military power, but he does think that many of them can. He backed the US military intervention in Bosnia, the bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo crisis, the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, and the invasion of Iraq (although he subsequently had the grace to admit he was wrong and apologise for that).

Indeed, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate has even called for the use of US troops in Sudan, unilaterally if necessary. He would doubtless agree with Obama’s famous remark (over Iraq) that he was not against all wars, just against dumb ones – but Biden’s criteria for which wars are dumb wars are not very discriminating. A unilateral US military intervention in Sudan would make the Iraq fiasco look like a wise act of statesmanship.

On larger issues, by contrast, Biden has usually been a voice of moderation among the chorus of Democratic hawks vying to outdo their Republican colleagues in their hostility to Russia and their enthusiasm for the "war on terror." He did support the expansion of NATO right up to Russia’s frontiers (and visited Georgia immediately after the recent fighting), but he has resisted the temptation to paint Russia as the Soviet Union in sheep’s clothing. And his contempt for the "war on terror" has been consistent and exemplary.

"Terror is a tactic," Biden has said. "Terror is not a philosophy." It is a mantra that everybody in US politics should be required to chant each morning before work, even if it is slightly inaccurate. ("Terror" is actually an emotion. "Terrorism," however, is a tactic – a political tool or technique, more precisely – that can be used in support of a wide variety of causes. It is as misleading to declare war on terrorism as it would be to declare war on propaganda.)

Knowing this has enabled Biden to concentrate (most of the time, at least) on the need to eliminate the particular groups of terrorists that had attacked the United States, who were mostly located in Afghanistan and Pakistan. When he briefly supported the invasion of Iraq, he did not do so out of an ignorant belief that Saddam Hussein had links with those terrorists. It was his liberal interventionism that drove his decision, combined with a naive belief that the US intelligence services would not bend the evidence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction to serve the president’s purposes.

So that is Joe Biden’s take on foreign policy, and it probably isn’t vastly different from Barack Obama’s. The difference lies mostly in the "experience" factor, which tells you all you needed to know about the value of experience in these matters. It is Biden’s long residence at the heart of the Washington political/military/intelligence machine that makes him such a conventional character.

All that stuff about Obama being "not ready to lead" is simply a coded warning that he might not lead in the time-honoured, conventional way. John McCain certainly would, and so would have Hillary Clinton if she had won the Democratic nomination The selection of Joe Biden as his running mate is intended to allay those fears by linking Obama to someone who is deeply embedded in the conventional wisdom, but it doesn’t actually prove that Obama is too.

There is still room for suspicion that Barack Obama harbours a secret desire to lead move American foreign policy in a quite different direction, away from the traditional great-power realpolitik and the occasional forays into liberal interventionism. That would probably appal Biden, and it would horrify the rest of the Washington establishment.

Vice-presidents don’t have a veto, so the choice of Biden poses no problem there. But the Washington establishment probably does have a veto, so whatever Obama intends, Biden will not be disappointed by the outcome.

8:44 AM

Fair and Free Elections: A Reply to Ambassador

The elections to the North Central and the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils have been held and it is reported that there were no major incidents of falsification. The actual results, specially the manner in which the elections were held is a sharp reply to the American Ambassador’s statement made recently that “the United States is interested in assuring a free and fair election” and he further added that “The United States takes a strong interest in free and fair elections around the world including here in S ri Lanka”.

The Hon American Ambassador must understand that people in glass houses should not throw stones. It is sad that he has forgotten that his own master, the Hon President of the United States of America has stolen his Presidentship not once in 2000 but also in 2004.

The facts are that when one considers how George W. Bush crept into the White House in 2000 through a decision by the Supreme Court Judges and not by the votes of the people and again how the Electronic Voting Machines voted him into power in 2004 no American has any right to advise any other country on holding free and fair elections.

The manner in which the 2000 election was “won” was a first time where the counting of ballots was stopped by an order of the Supreme Court and timed in such a manner that George W. Bush had to be bestowed with the Presidency. It is a strange manner and it is hoped that no other democratic country will copy it to the detriment of democracy. Our Ambassador should remember this fact. I will repeat my own words:

“Every election, anywhere is likely to have a certain degree of corruption. Instances of impersonation do happen. Then there are the more serious – rigging, ballot boxes being stuffed with ballots, ballot boxes being stolen or burnt. But this is the first time I have heard of the Judiciary usurping the rights of the people and I hope this will be the last”(From “The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election,” (The University Press of America) x1)

7:42 AM

29 civilians seek protection with security forces

A total of 29 Tamil civilians from the non-liberated areas at Mullaittiuvu and Kilinochchi Districts have sought protection with security forces yesterday (Aug 27) at Pulmoddai (Eastern coast) and Iluppaikkadavai (Western coast) military detachments.

According to military, 17 civilians including 3 women, 2 girls, a boy and 11 men were among those who had arrived at the coast of Pulmoddai, in a fiberglass boat at 2p.m. The civilians have fled due to unprecedented hardships experienced in the hands of LTTE, including forced abductions and fear of child conscription by the outfit who are running blank of fighting cadres.

Earlier, on Wednesday, 10 more Tamil civilians had arrived at Pulmoddai and sought protection with security forces, according to military reports received.

In addition, 2 more civilians found protection with troops at the newly liberated Iluppaikkadavai area in the Western Wanni battlefront, at around 8.45a.m.

2:40 AM

Sri Lankan Rappers in Public Feud Over LTTE

Sri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam (who goes by the stage name MIA) and Sri Lankan hip-hop artist DeLon are trading charges against each other in a rousing battle on the internet.Sri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" ArulpragasamSri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam

DeLon has accused MIA of implicitly supporting the LTTE cause, primarily through her lyrics and video images. But she has vehemently denied the charges.

Her father, Arular Arulpragasam, a founder member of the Tamil militant group EROS, and who is currently based in London, told Asiantribune, the charges are erroneous and outdated.

"She is not alone in this. She has an army of people behind her and she will deal with this matter in a manner she deems fit. This issue has been taken up and dealt with two years ago and the matter referred to are outdated," he added in an email message to News-Lanka.

In a letter to her father, MIA says "its good to have the facts on file". She says she told the media she isn't interested in starting a dialogue with DeLon, who she says, "wants to promote himself and sell t-shirts on the back of my song."

MIA, who currently lives in New York, also says that in America her song is number 2 and 3 in the singles chart. "And I'm selling 100,000 copies of my song a week. So, there will be jealousy, but they can only attack me with my own song, which at the end of the day proves that its about talent."

"My time will come to clear this up, properly and this guy doesn't have to be anywhere near me when that time comes. I'll do it when its right for me, not him. Also, I'd rather win this with talent and the right to be recognized.'

She continues: "It just so happens I'm a Tamil, and I won't forget my history or my personal experience. But Tamils have to be smarter to get their stories heard, without getting milled, banned and buried. I just don't know what that is yet. But politics might not be the solution."

A web story last week said that in a YouTube video posted in late July, which remixes MIA's latest number "Paper Planes," DeLon claims that the Sri Lankan rapper used LTTE imagery in her song.

DeLon's version re-cuts the MIA version with Tamil Tiger bombings and child soldiers, and openly questions whether M.I.A. supports terrorists. DeLon says MIA consistently uses tigers in imagery -- on clothes, in videos -- and that MIA has called her father a "freedom fighter."

According to BBC, 'Paper Planes', has reached number 16 in the singles chart after being included in the trailer for the comedy film "Pineapple Express".

Marshall Shen, head of DeLon's record label, Ceylon, told E! "In the video, we didn't really accuse her of being a Tamil Tiger," But we're asking, why she is putting these images out there if she doesn't support them?"

7:38 AM

LTTE terrorists launch abortive air raid

LTTE terrorists launched an abortive air raid at the Trincomalee Naval base last night (Aug 26).

According to Navy sources , the navy base was alarmed on an approaching terror aircraft by Sri Lanka Air Force around 9 PM. After few minutes, naval troops detected the aircraft and engaged it with anti air guns . The machine gun fire caused the aircraft to make away without entering into the naval dockyard, said the sources.

However, the terrorists managed to drop two improvised bombs into the navy camp. The sources said that only one out of two bombs was exploded. 10 sailors suffered injuries due to the explosion.

7:50 AM

UPFA in the lead in the Polonnaruwa district

Party Name Votes % Seats
United People's Freedom Alliance 107910 59.73% 6
United National Party 63265 35.02% 4
People's Liberation Front 7381 4.09%

6:47 AM

No violence in polling stations -- PAFFREL Chief

Kingsley Rodrigo of the election watchdog agency, PAFFREL, stated a short while ago that there have been no violence reported in any polling station. He said also that PAFFREL had expected much violence related to the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provincial Council Elections yesterday (August 23), but confirmed that it was a peaceful election.

Earlier, certain political parties, media activits and other interested parties had painted a bleak picture regarding PC election.

9:11 AM

Reach outer LTTE defences of Nachchikudha

Troops of Task Force 1 marching along the Mannar- Poonaryn road (A-32) on the Kilinochchi southern front today reached the outer defences of Nachchikudha LTTE stronghold.

According to the defence sources in the area, troops have been able to dominate about 1 km stretch of the earth hump made by the LTTE, located in the Vannerikkulam area, East of Nachchikudha. Fierce fighting prevailed in the area from morning to evening, sources said.

Meanwhile radio-monitoring reports confirmed that 12 terrorists were killed and 15 others injured on the Kilinochchi front alone, in the day's clashes. In addition, reports indicate that 4 soldiers suffered injuries during the same.

9:07 AM

LTTE terrorists Killed University Sinhala Student

A Sinhala student of Eastern University in Eravur has been shot dead by suspected LTTE terrorists around 8.45, last night (Aug 21). According to the defence sources in the area, the victim has been shot outside the students' hostel using a micro pistol.

The victim has been identified as S. Pahan Samarasinghe, a student of Commerce Faculty and a resident of Pothuhara , Kurunagala. Police conducts further investigations.

8:49 AM

AL centres in Vanni shifted

Some G.C.E. Advanced Level centres have been shifted due to fighting on the Kilinochchi front. Of the 10 centres in the Kilinochchi administrative district, three in the Pooneryn area were shifted to Kilinochchi Central College on August 11. The examination began on August 6.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), which represents INGOs active in Sri Lanka said the centres had to be shifted due to shelling at Vanneikkulam in Pooneryn.

The Examination Department said that altogether 108 centres had been established in the Districts of Mannar (12), Jaffna (76), Mullaitivu (10) and Kilinochchi (10). An official said that the fighting hadn’t seriously affected the examination. He was confident that the examination could be held as scheduled.

The examination will end on September 3. The Examination Department said that there would be a three-day break beginning August 22 due to PC elections in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces on August 23.

The IASC in its latest bulletin released on Monday (18) quoted the Kilinochchi NGO consortium as having said that 4,372 newly displaced had been accommodated at 12 schools in the Kilinochchi district. The Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights said that the Government Agents in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu had brought this to the notice of the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA).

According to the UNICEF, 7,500 children in Madhu education zone and about 4,500 in Vavuniya (north) zone havebeen displaced by the fighting. The agency said that education material, too, had been lost due to multiple displacements and the quantity of materials were insufficient for the upcoming term.

8:44 AM

First South Asia Economic Summit

While the 15th SAARC Summit successfully completed in Colombo, the first ever South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) picks up at the BMICH from 28th to 30th August and it will be held parallel to the SAARC Trade Fair 2008 which will also be held at the BMICH.

The need for regional economic cooperation is paramount with traditional trade partners of South Asian Countries at a time there is global economic turmoil and at a time countries struggling in the wake of financial market crises coupled with soaring costs of energy and food.

Sri Lanka, holding the Chair, has an opportunity and responsibility to provide leadership in setting the agenda to take SAARC through this challenging time to emerge a stronger regional group. A key input for this process would be the contribution of academia, the private sector and civil society of South Asia.

SAES will focus on leading economic integration issues including the status and challenges facing the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), and regional integration in services and investment. Key regional infrastructure issues such as transport, ICT and trade facilitation measures are also addressed in separate sessions.

Summit will provide a forum for discussion of regional solutions to critical global challenges. A surge in global energy costs has provided a platform for regional cooperation in energy, particularly given the fact that some members have surpluses in energy whilst others face serious energy deficits.

The global food crisis will also be discussed from a South Asian perspective, debating regional options and solutions. Climate change is another critical challenge – interlinked with a whole gamut of development related issues. Given the difficulties in achieving a global consensus for action on this matter, the onus is on South Asian countries to tailor solutions to regional threats within the constraint of regional capabilities.

SAES will also comprise of a series of parallel sessions addressing a variety of specific interests including Sri Lanka’s bilateral trade arrangements with India and Pakistan and sectoral issues such as cooperation in tourism, labour migration, and issues facing weaker economies.

SAES objectives are: to take stock of the new economic-related issues emerging from the 15th SAARC Summit; to follow up on the major theme of the 14th SAARC Summit in 2007, i.e., improving “connectivity” in the region (transport, energy, and trade facilitation); to look at deepening and broadening economic integration by fast tracking goods liberalization under SAFTA and incorporating services and investment for liberalization in the region, respectively; to examine measures to strengthen the SAARC process by empowering the SAARC institutions and the Secretariat; to look at integrating sub-regional economic cooperation to a broader South Asian framework; to analyze ways and means of encouraging more people-to-people contact by promoting tourism and other means; and to assess emerging new issues in South Asian economic cooperation. These issues will be discussed in the context of achieving the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs).

SAES will be jointly organized by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka (FCCISL) in collaboration with a number of institutes in the region: Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), India; South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS), Nepal; and South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics & Environment (SAWTEE), Nepal. The SAES will also have collaboration and technical inputs from the World Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, UNDP Regional Centre Colombo, and the Asian Development Bank.

7:53 AM

Woman attacked in paddy field

A married woman of Tanamalgodawatta in Deiyyandara who had been toiling in a paddy field with her husband had been attacked and badly cut with a sharp knife by a group of people who had come there with guns. The victim had been admitted toe the Mavarala hospital with serious injuries.

7:47 AM

Red Cross to spend SLR 400 Million to Polonnaruwa General Hospital

The Canadian Red Cross Society will spend 400 million Rupees to upgrade Polonnaruwa General Hospital to a three story hospital with the most modern facilities, A Red Cross website has announced.

The Relief web of the Red Cross said, “The Canadian Red Cross (CRC) Society will spend 366 million rupees for the construction of new building and Rs. 50 million to provide the required medical equipment. There will be an outpatient department, X-ray room, clinics dispensaries, an auditorium and administration area in this new building.”

The Red Cross further said, that the new three story building complex will be constructed at Polonnaura general hospital that will bring improvements to the level of healthcare provided to the people of Polonnaruwa district and neighboring areas. The relief web also said that Polonnaruwa is one of the districts in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka where the majority of the population depends on agriculture and this General Hospital is the main health facility available for the people in the district who come from far distant rural areas.

This building constrution project was initiated by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society under the post Tsunami recovery program. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will provide technical assistance for the project.

The ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone for the new complex on 14th of August, 2008 was attended by Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services Maitreepala Sirisena, Minister of Agrarian Services Siripala Gamlath Deputy Minister of Land and Land Development Chandrasiri Sooriyarachchi, President of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Jagath Abeysinghe, National Secretary S.H. Nimal Kumar, Head of Delegation IFRC Paul Emese, construction delegate of Canadian Red Cross Niloo Szand and Chairman of the Pollonnaruwa SLRCS branch H P Wijayasena. During the occation the Liquid Oxygen storage system constructed with CRC funding was also handed over to hospital authorities.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the web said, has made a long term commitment towards rebuilding Sri Lanka's health sector. The Red Cross and Red Crescent's post tsunami health infrastructure development programme which is constructing and renovating a total of 77 health facilities across 16 districts of Sri Lanka under a MoU agreed with the Ministry of Health, it further reported. The 77 projects include the construction, renovation or refurbishment of wide range of health care facilities including district and base level hospitals as well as clinics and dispensaries. Construction of nurse training centres and providing 6 oxygen storage facilities at different hospitals also include the programme. The Red Cross will be equipping most of these facilities with medical equipment which ranges from hospital beds to sophisticated X-ray and ultrasound machines.

Already more than 25 hospitals and clinics have been completed and handed over, the Releif Web said.

This programme will run until 2010 and majority of projects are expected to be completed by 2009, the website promised.

7:45 AM

Government assist civilians fleeing fighting in the Wanni

The Government is committed to assisting civilians who may be displaced by the ongoing counter LTTE military operations in the North and reiterates its firm commitment to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the people in the Wanni.

Urgent measures have been taken to provide adequate food and shelter to the displaced people and additional facilities are being constructed in Government controlled areas. Sri Lanka is a unique case of a government maintaining its offices and funding the administration in territories unlawfully occupied by a terrorist group.

The Government Agents of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu have confirmed that internally displaced persons (IDPs) are being temporarily accommodated in schools, which are now closed due to holidays. Plans are underway to settle them in shelters located in safe areas prior to the commencement of the new school term. There is absolutely no truth in the reports of IDPs living under trees.

While the Government has strongly encouraged civilians to move from the conflict zone to safe areas under its control, it is reported that the LTTE has hindered thousands of families from moving to safer places by imposing a strict pass system and in some instances, forcing some family members to stay behind to ensure the return of the rest of the family. These measures seem designed to use civilians as a buffer against the government forces which is a serious violation of international humanitarian norms.

In these circumstances, it is incumbent on the international community to exert pressure on the LTTE to allow civilians to leave areas controlled by them. The safety and well-being of civilians can be effectively ensured in Government controlled facilities.

7:00 AM

SF Rescue Mission --- Similar to English Action Film

On July 29, a six man team of Army Special Forces, who were engaged in a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Mission (LRRP) were detected by members of the LTTE’s civilian militia deep inside LTTE territory between Mankulam and Kokavil.

Special Forces commandos easily neutralized the civilian militia, but soon a large number of Tiger cadres were dispatched to comb the jungles looking for the SF men. Two commandos were killed in a firefight and two others wounded. Commandos were forced to leave behind a body of a slain comrade during their withdrawal. Four men trekked 25 kilometres, dodging the guerrillas while carrying the body of a dead comrade.

The Special Forces Commander called for air support to rescue the four valiant men. A Bell 212 and a MI 24 attack helicopter took off from Anuradhapura Air Force Base. They flew hugging the thick jungle canopy of the Wanni, occasionally firing countermeasure flares to avoid LTTE’s Manpad.

Four Special Forces men were awaiting the rescue helicopter. After having secured a landing site, one of the men lit a fire as the helicopter approached and alerted the crew of their location. As the Bell 202 landed, the four men jumped on board. Half an hour later the helicopter landed at the Anuradhapura Air Base and the two wounded soldiers were rushed to the Anuradhapura Hospital.

This was not the first time the SLAF carried out rescue missions of this nature. On November 20, last year, an eight-man team of army commandos who were engaged in a LRRP mission in Periyamadu, twenty kilometres inside Tiger territory were detected by the LTTE. The LTTE had stepped up security on the eve of the approaching Mahaveer commemorations.
An army commando was injured after he stepped on an anti-personnel mine. The team sought air support to evacuate the injured soldier.

Torrential rains held off the rescue mission for two days. On 22 November, eight men were evacuated by a Bell 202 helicopter. This time round, the SLAF decided to release a video of the rescue mission which has been posted on the defence ministry website.

6:44 AM

Mihin Will Re-born

Mihin Lanka is expected to operate once again with an infusion of US dollars 400 million. The resurrection is to save President Mahinda Rajapaksa any embarrassment, as the budget airline was his idea, a top government source said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to appoint Maga Naguma Company Chairman Jaliya Kulasekara as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mihin Lanka, political sources said.

The President had called Kulasekara and asked him to takeover as the CEO, as Sajin Vaas Gunawardana had been a miserable failure and could not keep Mihin flying. The President had asked Kulasekara to provide US $ 200 million and had said that he would find another US$ 200 million to revive the airline which does not fly anymore.

Kulasekara, it is reliably learnt, had flown to Dubai with a team of officials to look into the possibility of hiring three aircraft as an initial measure to get the airline up and running, sources said.
Meanwhile, President Raj-apaksa had requested Kula-sekara to pick airline professionals to the Director Board, and had said that the earlier board was incompetent because it was comprised of rank amateurs in the airline business ..

They had only been enjoying the perks and had made no contribution whatsoever towards the airline, he had said. It is reliably understood that Kulasekara had requested the President that that he would undertake the post only on condition that there is no political interference from any quarter, so that he could make Mihin a profitable venture on the lines of the Maga Naguma Company. When Mihin Lanka collapsed , it recorded losses of over Rs.3 billion and owed Rs.850 million to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation for fuel supplies.
Companies that leased flights to Mihin Lanka had also recalled all the flights as Mihin Lanka had failed to settle payments.

6:42 AM

INGO's Kilinochchi Crisis

The growing humanitarian crisis in the Kilinochchi District was given special attention by the government last week at a special meeting where the plight of thousands of civilians living in the district was highlighted.
At the meeting, the dilemma facing more than 10,000 families was highlighted by government officials serving in the district.

“These Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are undergoing untold hardships without adequate facilities. They are presently staying at common places, under trees and open spaces. Rice is provided to them under the World Food Programme (WFP), but no other food items are given to them, and the IDPs have no choice but to purchase food items, other than rice. While struggling hard for money, they are forced to buy other items at exorbitant rates,” a situation report drawn up in July highlighted.
The government was also informed that electricity, water supply, sanitation and health services, internal transport facilities, agriculture and fishing activities were seriously affected.

The non-availability of the required fuel has led to a virtual paralysing of all sectors, the report further pointed out, noting that due to the present situation, no development could be carried out in the area. The report also highlighted that the entire responsibility with regard to the security of public officers lay with the state.
“The government officers and officers of the INGOs and NGOs are travelling without any security measures and with fear of claymore mines,” the report noted.

It also highlighted that the killings of Assistant Government Agent of Thunukkai, Nagalingam Nanthakuma on June 29 and Santhalingam Vimalakumar, who was the Development Assistant in Kachcheri, Kilinochchi have further fuelled fears amongst the government and other organisation officials.

The government was also informed that during the month of July, due to shelling and the aerial attack in Poonakary, Karachchi and Kandawalai, one person was killed and five others were injured.
“Those affected by the displacement are suffering mentally and physically endlessly,” the report stated.

5:39 AM

Govt. takes on Wanni NGOs

An apparently angry government on Friday hit out at the International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs) and demanded that the heads of the organisations take responsibility for many unwarranted incidents which have occurred in the recent past.

The visibly ticked-off government members, including Senior Advisor to the President Basil Rajapaksa and Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, at late last week’s high level policy meeting of the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA) took the INGOs head on, and voiced disapproval in the way most of the organistaions have conducted themselves so far in the north.

The vehicle issue of the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) NGO was highlighted, with the NPA coming under heavy flak from the government, The Nation reliably learns.
The government members pointed out that the Norwegian organisation was unaware of its vehicle being stolen, allegedly by the LTTE, until the military had reported the theft to the NPA.

The Minister and the Presidential Advisor had impressed that as a responsible organisation, the NPA should have been aware of what it had and what it had lost.

They had also noted that the government was under the impression that all valuable items were kept within the United Nations Compound, but that they had recently discovered that this was not the case.
The government on Friday had also voiced its displeasure over the conduct of the international community, which had failed to come out strongly against many of LTTE’s acts, including the stealing of equipment used for humanitarian purposes.

9:00 PM

Heavy Battles in Dwindling Area

Air force jets pounded Tamil Tiger fortifications in northern Sri Lanka - on Saturday, destroying a LTTE bunker line as fighting intensified in the country's civil war, the military said.

Heavy battles Friday across the front lines surrounding the dwindling area controlled by the rebels killed 22 guerrilla fighters, the military said in a statement Saturday.

In recent weeks, troops have broken through the rebels' defenses and seized a series of key towns and bases. Raging battles in the Kilinochchi region killed nine rebel fighters, the military said. Fighting in Vavuniya, Welioya, Mullaittivu and Jaffna killed another 13, the military said.

As the troops advanced on the rebels' main power base in Kilinochchi on Saturday morning, air force jets supported them by striking and destroying a line of rebel bunkers east of the town of Nachchikuda, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.

LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not answer calls for comment.

Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own. Independent verification of the fighting is not possible because most journalists are barred from the war zone.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization of ethnic Tamils by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.

5:24 PM

Civilians flee defying LTTE orders

Large groups of civilians are fleeing the LTTE controlled Kilinochchi District to government controlled areas in the North defying LTTE orders, Director of the Media Centre for National Security, told News-Lanka yesterday.

The LTTE had threatened the civilians leaving their stronghold with death, he said.

The armed forces were now within 14 kilometres from the Kilinochchi town. The Sri Lanka Air Force attacked three LTTE positions in the district yesterday and inflicted heavy losses on terrorist positions. The ground troops were advancing according to plan, Hulugalle said.

4:26 PM

Prabhakaran Abandoned Tamils he hoped to lead to “Promise Land,”

Contrary to popular myth expressed across the Palk Strait and by some folks in Sri Lanka, Prabhakaran lost popular support faster than he lost his ill-gotten territory militarily. Intelligence sources expressed the view that he may never proclaim his Heroes Day Message again.

He never surrounded himself with the people he hoped to lead into the “Promised Land.” It is an “unwinnable war”- was what the UNP repeated ad nauseam and chanted “armed forces can never take Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.” Alas! The illusionary task of defeating Prabhakaran has become a reality. Intelligence sources added that no leader has ever won a battle without the solid support of the people, call it insurrection or freedom fight.

Aging Tiger leader Velupillai PrabakaranAging Tiger leader Velupillai Prabakaran

Sri Lankan armed forces are in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts as I write. Barring an unlikely disastrous reversal for the armed forces, the war in the north would come to an end this year.

Sources in Washington added that the view that Prabhakaran carried the Tamils with him was never true, contrary to what has been stated recently by the generally media shy National Security Advisor of India, M K Naryanan.

News-Lanka reported that he was on the front pages of Indian and Sri Lanka dailies indicating that "Sri Lanka may win the battle against the Tamil Tigers but not the war as 'they haven't got the Tamil population on their side." According to the news-Lanka report, these observations don't appear to be off the cuff remarks, because he was careful when speaking to The Strait Times: 'I know the Sri Lankan government will be unhappy (at this advice).'

9:14 AM

army advance to Nachchikuda

Air Force MI 24 helicopter gunships raided a line of LTTE bunkers located in the East of Nachchikuda on the Kilinochchi war front around 1.10 this afternoon (August 15). According to the Air Force sources, the attacks were launched in support of the Army Task Force 1 soldiers marching Northwards on the Mannar- Pooneryn road (A-32).

4:03 PM

Army Captures Mulangavil

Army Commander tells News-Lanka Army captures Mulangavil LTTE complex in Kilinochchi district, bringing troops to within 15km of Kilinochchi town

3:04 PM

Police arrests 6 LTTE suspects

Matale Police acting on civilian information received Tuesday (August 12), netted 6 LTTE suspects and recovered 13 kgs of C-4 high explosives along with few other war like items at Ukuwela in the Matale District.

The sting operation was conducted yesterday evening following extensive filed work police said. It is believed that these individuals were also responsible for the bus bombings and the spree of transformer explosions.

Police are yet to release further information.

According to sources, following items were recovered during the search operation.

* C-4 high explosives - 13 kgs
* Detonator code - 11.5 m
* Detonators - 30
* Cyanide capsules - 6
* Timers - 3
* Batteries - 3

8:14 AM

Call for the removal of restriction to fish in the Palk Bay

Call for the immediate removal of the restriction to fish in the Palk Bay sea region is gathering momentum, as the security situation along the country’s Northwest coastline is gradually stabilizing immediately after Mannar district falls under the Government control. The restriction to fish in the Palk Bay region was imposed on 27 March 2006, and the sea region was declared a security Zone.

Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Abdul Risath Bathiutien, who is also the District MP for Vanni representing Mannar, while congratulating President Mahinda Rajapakse for liberating the entire Mannar district from the LTTE’s clutches, also appealed to the President to allow the fishermen in the region to fish in the Palk Bay regions for their livelihood support.

Many fishermen organizations and fishermen cooperatives in the region are also appealing to do away with the restrictions and to allow fishermen to fish in the Palk Bay waters. They all pointed out as the security situation has stabilized to a great extent, fishermen should be allowed to fish while Navy could provide the required security in the Sri Lankan waters.

It is pointed out that by allowing the fishermen to fish in the Palk Bay would serve a dual purpose.

1. Allowing the fishermen to fish under safe conditions would provide livelihood support for thousands of fishermen and to their families.

2. Also would prevent the infiltration of foreign fishing vessels in Sri Lankan waters, especially vessels belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen, as well as the movements of LTTE boats, which are in a big way involved in smuggling of war related materials.

Fishermen organizations said since the Palk Bay region was declared a security zone, Lankan fishermen hitherto were unable to have a descent living economically because of the conflict situation in the North.

According to a statistics there are more than 1 million people involved in the fish related trades and out of them nearly 300,000 are fishermen involved in fishing for their livelihood. In Puttalam district as well as in the Northern Province, statistics reveal that there are more than 50,000 people involved in fishing for their livelihood.

At present, the island nation of Sri Lanka, which is surrounded all sides by sea rich in prawns, shrimps, squids, crabs and fishes, is spending annually to import fish around USD 170 to 200 million.

Though Sri Lanka Government has declared Palk Bay region a security zone and forbidden Sri Lankan fishermen to fish, however the Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu unmindful of restriction continues to poach in the Sri Lanka’s Palk bay sea region.

Indian fishermen used to cross into Sri Lankan waters and are seen poaching in the seas near point Pedro coast, Mannar and Delfts, depleting the rich fish resources available in the Sri Lankan waters.

It is said if the Navy is able to give the security cover for Sri Lankan fishermen who are presently surviving on government handouts such as dry ration subsidies, this would in great way help to diffuse tension in the North

Minister Abdul Risath Bathiyutheen speaking to News-Lanka said it is high time we also look into the concerns and wishes of our own fishermen. He added once the Northern fishermen are allowed to fish in the Palk Bay region this would be in a big way dissuade the Tamil Nadu fishermen to enter into Sri Lankan waters and poach.

Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai P.M. Amza when contacted told News-Lanka that since January 2006 to date, nearly 306 Indian fishermen were arrested for poaching in the Sri Lankan waters and majority of them were released without even filing charges against them in the courts and even those who were charged were released by withdrawing their cases on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.

But on the contrary, it has been pointed out that, at present there are about 26 Sri Lankan fishermen arrested by Indian authorities and are held in the Madurai jail. Regarding their plight, the Joint Interrogation Committee headed by the Collector of Tuticorin has recently considered to take legal action against those Sri Lankan fishermen who are languishing in the Madurai Jail.

So far Tamil Nadu Government led by pro-LTTE Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has failed to reciprocate the goodwill gesture shown by the Sri Lanka Government.

Srimal Pinto, who is the coordinator of the Association for the Release of Innocent Fishermen of Sri Lanka, in an interview has pointed out that regarding the Sri Lankan fishermen languishing in the Madurai Jail, he has met Tuticorin Collector Palaniyandi and appeal for their release. He said the Collector was highly indifferent and was very antagonistic. He also said that he has also met the Director of Fisheries of the Tamil Nadu Government and appealed in vain for the release of Sri Lankan fishermen. He also added he made several attempts to meet K.P.P. Samy, Minister of Fisheries of Tamil Nadu state, but so far he was not afforded with an appointment for the meeting.

7:11 AM

JVP should practice inner party democracy

General Secretary of the National Freedom Front Nandana Gunathilaka said the JVP must follow democratic path before asking others to follow the path of democracy.

“They must follow democratic practices within their party, said Mr.Gunathilaka in a press statement.

A number of NFF members were assaulted by the JVP members, he alleged.However JVP strongmen Anura Kumara Dissanayake said NFF have made false allegations against the JVP to obtain cheap publicity. “This is method of the NFF, he said.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday Mr. Dissanayake said the JVP never bother about NFF activities. Responding to media he said election monitors do not have man power
to monitor the entire election process and the JVP does not accept their reports.

“We do not have confidence on their activities and their final reports which do not reflect the true situation of the elections.

“If they want to monitor an election in selected areas, they pick people from those areas and obtain their reports. Can we accept their reports? Because they do not have prior experience on election monitoring process, he said.

Meanwhile addressing the National Professionals’ Council, the Election Commissioner lamented that he had been unable to set up a safety net to safeguard voters as he could not find at least 100 unbiased, efficient public officials.

The Election Commissioner stated that the 1972 and 1978 constitutions took away the personal independence and prompted the public officials to serve the politicians.

He said that he would have set up an alternative structure in addition to police to monitor and report election malpractices and violence if there were an adequate number of unbiased public officials.

After meting the Election Commissioner, Prof. Oliver Abenayaka, the Supreme Council member of National Professionals’ Council addressed media and said that they urged the Commissioner to safeguard the democratic rights of the people in the coming Provincial Council elections.

1:06 PM

Sri Lanka Government to open up A-32 Road

One of the main objectives of the present liberation operation in the North is to find an alternate land route for the people of the Jaffna Peninsula to travel down to the South and other parts of the country. Government spokesman expressed optimism that the LTTE controlled Pooneryn in Kilinochchi district is expected to fall soon and A 32 Road will be opened up for the people of the Jaffna peninsula to travel up and down to the country’s South Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella : "Once we retake Pooneryn located in the Northwest coastline, the supply lines to the LTTE from that side of India will be totally stopped." Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella : "Once we retake Pooneryn located in the Northwest coastline, the supply lines to the LTTE from that side of India will be totally stopped."

Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Government Spokesman for Defence and National Security, when speaking to News told that A-9 land route to Colombo was closed to the people of the Jaffna peninsula due to the intransigence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He said Prabakaran and his men continue to shed crocodile tears while adamantly refusing to lay down their arms and thus bringing untold misery and hardship to our Tamil brethrens.

Given below the excerpts if the interview News had with Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella:

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela: As you know now that Vidathaltivu, the LTTE’s largest sea base located in the Northwest coastline has fallen and we are trying get through to Pooneryn located in the A 32 Road, in the Kilinochchi district, which lays on the south of the Jaffna Lagoon and could reach Karativu on the other side of the Lagoon and to Jaffna via Navatkuli through a ferry.

Once we retake Pooneryn located in the Northwest coastline, the supply lines to the LTTE from that side of India will be totally stopped. Also on the other side we are almost there in Nayaru. Even today (09 August), the Air Force planes attacked Nayaru.

Basically the sea-bases which the Sea Tigers have been boasting about are now coming under the control of the Government forces. If you look at, in the last three months basically there was only three confrontations by the Sea Tigers and in those confrontations Navy was able to take control of those situations over there.Map showing A - 32 RoadMap showing A - 32 Road

The important thing is that what Soosai, Head of LTTE's Sea Tiger unit of the LTTE has been boasting about is not receding but it almost coming to zero, which in turn means that Navy has consolidated their positions and taken control of the entire Northwest sea belt.

News : Since the capture of Vidathaltivu, so far you have finished mopping up all the areas in the Mannar District. Now the next town beyond Velankulam in A – 32 Road is Kumulamunai and Pallavarayankaddu ?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : That is on the North West Coast?

News: Yes. These two areas are falling under Kilinochchi district?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : These areas are cutting across Kilinochchi … no? So if we now move from A point to B point, i.e., from Mannar to Pooneryn, then it means that we are cutting half way into Kilinochchi.

News : Then there is the Kalmunai Point from where Tigers fire artilleries to Palali Army Complex and the Forward Defence Line - Muhamalai

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : Basically their heavy artillery guns are presently positioned in Pooneryn. Once we reach there and take over Pooneryn, they have to flee leaving those guns behind or move their heavy guns away from there, then the attacks on Palali and Muhamali will cease, because the range of those guns in the possession of the LTTE are between 24KM to 27 KM only. So that will cut off.

Also there is another important issue that has cropped up now. We have cleared the complete area in and around the Madhu Church. Apart from the normal duties of the Army, it went all out and completely cleared the area from land mines and booby traps laid by the LTTE and made the roads available for the people to come in to Madhu.

We did all things needed for the Madhu, but of course we cannot get into the administration of the Madhu Church. Therefore we have now handed over the area to the Bishop. Now our understanding is that there are seven Catholic priests living over there.

Earlier the Statue of Our Lady of Madhu was taken to an LTTE controlled area 40 KM away. That area Devanpiddy is now under the Government control. But unfortunately the Bishop has made a statement that they are not going to hold the annual feast for this year.

News: It seems that they have some time constraints, because Bishop took over the Church on the 6th of August and the feast has to be held on the 15th of August

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : You mean to say they faces logistical problems.

News: I think yes, but the Bishop of Mannar has stated that Sri Lanka Government as well as the LTTE should declare Madhu area a ‘No Conflict Zone’ on the lines also urged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka. Your comments?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : That was a very contentious statement. When the area was held by the LTTE, either the Bishop of Mannar or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka did not urge the LTTE to declare Madhu as a ‘No Conflict Zone’.

But now when Government has taken over the Madhu area, the Bishop wants that area to be declared as a sacred area or in other words a ‘No Conflict Zone’. The fact remains that he did not make such demands when the LTTE was there.

News: According to our information the entire Madhu region and neighboring areas are under the control of the Government, then where is LTTE coming into this picture?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : The whole area is under a legitimate government.

News: Then how come the Bishop expects the Tamil Tigers to make a statement?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : We are very much concerned about the statement made by the Bishop of Mannar. Because there is no way the LTTE can provide security as the whole Madhu region is under the control of the sovereign legitimate Government of Sri Lanka. It amounts to Bishop inviting LTTE as a party to the territory. That is why we are very much concerned about the contentious statement of the Bishop of Mannar.

News: Why doesn’t the Government invite the Bishop of Mannar and members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka and find out what they are up to?

Dr. Keheliya Rambukkawela : I intend to discuss this issue with our President and suggest him to invite the Bishops to discuss about this issue.

7:04 AM

SLAF destroys Tiger intelligence control network

The Air Force confirmed that they completely destroyed the LTTE’s main intelligence network control centre at Puthukkudiyirippu, Mullativu yesterday morning.

Air Force Spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara confirmed that the pilots had taken the target accurately and the intelligence network centre was completely destroyed during the attack carried out around 9:55 a.m.
Air Force fighter jets were engaged in the attack.

Meanwhile, yesterday around 10 a.m., the Air Force fighter jets carried out an operation targeting an LTTE supply centre located 15 kilometres west of Puthukudiyirippu at Vishvamadhu, Mullativu.

The Air Force pilots declared that the place was completely destroyed in the attack”, Com. Nanayakkara confirmed.
On Friday midnight an LTTE radar centre was destroyed by the Air Force situated Nagadivanthurai jetty in Pooneryn. MI 24 helicopters were engaged in the attack.

10:02 PM

Declare assets in the Wanni

The Disaster Management Ministry has directed all NGOs and INGOs operating in the Wanni and other uncleared areas to submit details of their movable and immovable assets in the region.
This directive has been made in order to determine as to what action the government should take to prevent them from going into LTTE hands.

It has been reported that at least 40 SUVs (Special Utility Vehicles) belonging to Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) had gone missing in the Wanni region recently and believed to be in the hands of the LTTE. Earlier, several heavy equipment and machinery left behind by the NPA had also been taken over by the LTTE. This equipment had been used for de-mining by the Norwegians in the Wanni region

Highly placed government sources told The Nation that the NPA had been specifically told that, vehicles taken into the Wanni for humanitarian work, should not be be used for any military purpose. They had also been told that, since it is difficult to engage in humanitarian work in the area, owing to the ongoing operations, such vehicles should be brought back to non conflict areas. The government had also told the representatives of the NPA that, they should exert international pressure on the LTTE to refrain from using such vehicles for military or other purposes and return them immediately. According to government sources, NPA officials had given a guarantee that they would pursuade the LTTE to return those vehicles.

NGO sources in Colombo told The Nation that, if the LTTE decides to use these SUVs, white in colour, for their operations in the region, their (the NGOs) humanitarian missions will be in jeopardy, since all the SUVs will become targets of the security forces.

Meanwhile, Essential Services Commissioner General S.B. Divaratne, had decided to restrict the supply of fuel to the INGOs operating in the Wanni.

In a letter addressed to several INGOs, the Divaratne has requested them to submit details pertaining to their projects/activities undertaken in the uncleared areas, including location of the project and number of vehicles, machinery used etc.

The letter further states thus: “It is informed that due to ongoing operations in the north, it would be difficult for the NGOs/INGOs to implement the projects they have undertaken in the uncleared areas. Further, it is also reported that, a large number of vehicles, machinery, equipment, belonging to the NGOs /INGOs had been robbed by the LTTE for their use.
Under the circumstances, this information is required in order to reassess the request made for the issuance of fuel for future demands of your organisation.”

3:48 PM

10 terrorists killed, 36 wounded

59 Division troops operating North of Janakapura and Kiriibbanwewa in Mullaittiuvu, Wednesday (August 6) mounted multiple assaults at LTTE strong-points and heavy gun positions killing 10 LTTE terrorists and injuring 36 others, defence sources said.

Troops have also repulsed consecutive LTTE offensive attempts to breach military defences since yesterday morning in general area North of Janakapura. The LTTE terrorists were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as confrontations had continued till late evening on Wednesday, military sources reported citing ground troops.

9:33 AM

LTTE retreating in Lanka: The Time of India

On Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met an array of Sri Lankan political forces in Colombo, ahead of the SAARC summit. Those he met included Tamil groups opposed to and sympathetic to the LTTE. To everyone he had one message: India would like democratic forces to prevail in Sri Lanka's northeast.

Meanwhile, the refugee flow into India is manageable. New Delhi is also relentlessly pursuing the LTTE in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere so that it does not source war materials from India. This is music to Colombo's ears.

Less than three years after it took on Colombo with aggressive war mongering, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is desperate for fighters, say Tamil activists and diplomatic sources.

According to Tamil sources in the island's troubled northeast, the LTTE is appealing to Tamil families to contribute at least one member each, irrespective of age and gender, to take on the advancing military.

The LTTE now controls about 4,000 sq km - or just six percent of Sri Lanka's land territory. And the population under its control is said to be about 250,000 - a mere 1.25 percent of the country's total.

This is a far cry from 2005 when it controlled a vast area in Sri Lanka's north and east. However, soon after President Mahinda Rajapaksa took power in November that year, the LTTE took the offensive, stoking a war that rages to this day.

Military officials say that the LTTE's ability to counter-attack in a major way has been seriously eroded over the past year. The loss of the east has meant that the LTTE has lost valuable training ground and a region where it recruited cadres to wage war.

While Sri Lankan leaders admit that it will be impossible to crush the LTTE as long as a sense of Tamil nationalism exists, the LTTE appears to be on the retreat in the north. But those who have known the LTTE warn that it will not give up, come what may.

Most diplomats feel that neither Colombo nor the LTTE desire talks. Colombo certainly thinks it is winning the war. And although the pro-LTTE media makes noises about the need for a dialogue, there is no guarantee the LTTE wants that.

In any case, calls for peace talks are dismissed in Colombo as a disguised pro-LTTE stand. The state refuses to listen to hectoring on human rights. Western activists are told that they cannot cross a line. If they do, reaction is swift.

In Sri Lanka, the two most key anti-LTTE Tamil leaders, former Tiger commander Karuna and his deputy and Eastern Province Chief Minister Pillayan, appear to have made up. Residents in the east say that Karuna will be in charge of party affairs while Pillayan will handle only affairs related to the provincial government.

Karuna's men are reportedly looking for 300 ex-LTTE cadres they believe are hiding in Colombo. It is trying to hunt them down in the Tamil areas of the capital with the help of the security forces.

At the same time, Sri Lanka seems to be in no hurry to unveil a political package that would be acceptable even to Tamil moderates.

Source: The Time of India.

9:29 AM

Nallur Kandasamy annual festival commences today

The annual festival of Nallur Kanthasamy Kovil (Temple) in Jaffna commences today with Kodi Etram - the ceremony of flag hoisting to mark the beginning of the temple festival. The festival will commence at 10 AM, in the morning. According to tradition, Nallur Kanthasamy Temple is said to be one of the few temples in the peninsula that practices rites and observances according to Saiva agama traditions, and reflected with regularity, splendor and pageantry.Nallur Kanthasamy Kovil is one of the most important temples in the Jaffna peninsula.

The annual festival used to commence on the sixth day of the Adi Amavaci – New moon in the month of Aadi (July) and would last for 25 days.Nallur Kanthasamy Kovil is one of the most important temples in the Jaffna peninsula. The annual festival used to commence on the sixth day of the Adi Amavaci – New moon in the month of Aadi (July) and would last for 25 days.

The temple festival will be held for the next 25 days. Unlike earlier annual festivals, according to the temple authorities, this year too the festival is to be held with subdued version of the pageant and pageantry.

The day pooja (adoration of deities with rituals) is to be held with the temple deity taken into procession within the inner court of the temple.

The evening pooja during the festival days will be held with the deity taken in procession at 4.45 pm. Temple authorities revealed that the day’s pooja will be over by 5.30 pm in the evening .

Today, the temple flag will be brought in procession from the ‘Theradi Murugan matt’ located at the Sattanathar Street, to be used for the hoisting.

The annual festival is expected to draw tens of thousands of pilgrims from all corners of the country and also this year, a few dozens of Tamil expatriates from Western countries are expected to arrive for the festival.

7:47 AM

Light Tremor Felt In Tangalle

Light earth tremor felt in Tangalle, Beliatte, Ranna & Kudawella around 5.45am. No damages to property or any threat from it-Met Dept

6:27 AM

over 20 terrorists killed - Vavuniya

Sri Lankan Army thrashed an LTTE offensive attempt in general area west of Kalvilan in Vavuniya front killing over 20 LTTE terrorists and injuries many others this afternoon, 5 August, the latest information received from the Vavuniya battlefront said.

According to the available sources, hours long fighting ensued between LTTE terrorists and security forces lasted till 8.00 PM and troops have retaliated with Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL) and artillery.

1:33 PM

11 terrorists killed,

Security forces personnel engaged in offensive march to liberate the Wanni from terror grip further advanced into LTTE territory inflicting damages to the enemy in Vavuniaya front, the finalized military report received from the battlefront said. 11 LTTE terrorists were killed and 7 others suffered injuries while an army personnel has made his utmost sacrifice for the sake of motherland. 3 more soldiers also received injuries in yesterday's clashes ensued, the report further added.

Troops launched an attack targeting terror bunker defences in general area Navatkulam and by intercepting LTTE radio transmission confirmed that one terrorist was killed and another suffered injuries. Separately, 5 more LTTE terrorists were killed when the troops attacked LTTE bunker defences in general area Thunukkai.

Meanwhile, 5 LTTE terrorists were killed and 6 others suffered injuries in a confrontation took place in general area Palamoddai. 2 soldiers also suffered injuries in this incident.

9:24 AM

SAARC Declaration to Call for United Effort Against Terrorism

South Asian leaders meeting in Sri Lanka will today commit themselves to fighting terrorism in their region and call for joint efforts to fight what the Indian leader the "scourge of terrorism."
The eight leaders of the regional bloc will today wind up their two day summit after a morning "retreat" where they will exchange views and ideas without their supporting aides.
The "retreat" that has now become a regular feature following the practice adopted by the Commonwealth heads of government and leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) gives leaders an opportunity to express views freely.
It is expected that the issue of terrorism will figure prominently. The initial statements of regional leaders at the summit opening showed that this remained a major concern particularly after last month’s spate of bombings in India and against the Indian Embassy in Kabul in which two Indian diplomatic officials at the mission died.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh both made specific reference to these bombings while Pakistan Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Gilani called for a united front against terrorism.
Yesterday’s statements on terrorism indicated what could be expected in the summit declaration. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called terrorism the "biggest single threat" to stability and peace in the region and stressed that terrorists and extremists know no borders. He said that member states must fight to preserve democratic values of pluralism and the rule of law.
Earlier Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa who assumed the chairmanship of SAARC for the next year had pointed out that all countries in the region had faced terrorism and extremism at some time and some member states still do.
He was adamant in his stance that there are no good terrorists and that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be wiped out.
After the meetings of the SAARC Council of Ministers, its chairman Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama had said that terrorism will be included as an offence in the Mutual Agreement on Criminal Matters that is to be signed by the SAARC leaders.
At that point Bogollagama said he was not in a position to reveal details but it is understood that by incorporating terrorism within the meaning of the agreement will provide countries with more cooperation to prosecute terrorism-related offences.
This will enhance inter-governmental assistance such as exchange of information and intelligence.
The 15th SAARC summit has been a triumph for Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama whose first major conference involving regional leaders since assuming the office around 18 months ago.
This was the real test of Bogollagama’s prowess in steering SAARC in the coming year will be how well he is able to push through with the implementation of the people-centred policy that is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s year of chairmanship.
Bogollagama is very much a practical man and he would wish to leave his mark on the organisation before he hands over the reigns to the next leader of the Council of Ministers.
The opening ceremony featured colourfully-attired artistes performing a sequence of dances outside the impressive Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) as the leaders were driven in to be greeted by the Sri Lankan foreign minister and then by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Also there to receive the visiting leaders and conduct them on stage was Sri Lanka’s new Chief of Protocol Sudantha Ganegama Aaratchi.

7:22 AM

Army captured Vellankulam – last bastion of Tigers in Mannar district

Sri Lanka Army captured yesterday afternoon, Vellankulam, the last Tiger bastion in the Mannar district.Map of Mannar
By capturing Vellankulam, Sri Lanka Army’s 58 Division has liberated the entire Mannar district within eight months period. Army’s 58 Division commenced their operation to Liberate Mannar district in November 2007. Sri Lanka Army’s 58 Division is commanded by Brigadier Shavindra Silva.
To liberate Mannar, 58 Division mobilized 12 Infantry Battalions, and Commando Brigade, supported by the 5th Armoured Corp regiment, 15 Artillery Regiment, 9 Signal and Engineers.
In this operation, Sri Lanka Air Force deployed their MI 24 fighter helicopters to attacked LTTE bunkers and to bring reinforcement to Army personnel, meanwhile ground troops had given perfect locations of LTTE military installation which enabled the Air Force fighter jets to bomb the exact targets and destroy.
A battle front officer told News-Lanka that the LTTE’s Jaffna commander Thleepan was commanding the Mannar battle front and he was given instruction over the radio to hold on to the position and not allow Army to enter Vellankulam, but Sri Lanka army faced easily the resistance forthcoming from LTTE and chase them away.
Infantry troops with the backing of artillery, captured the Vellankulam, the last coastal town in the Mannar district, located in the Northwest coast, along the A- 32 Road. Reports revealed that some soldiers have seen fleeing LTTE carders carrying bodies of their dead carders and that of those wounded.
After the capture of Velankulam, Sri Lanka Army’s 58 Division was seen marching towards Kilinonochi, while, 571, 572 and 573 Brigades attached to the 57th Division and elite Special Forces are tactically moving towards Thunukkai, Mallavi and Mankulam - which is located just 24 km from Kilinonochi Town.
In the meantime, the 572 Brigade which captured Vannivilankulam, south of Mallavi is now said to be moving towards Mankulam, and further north.
The Tigers are desperately trying to hold on to Mankulam, summoning additional cadres from the north to Mankulam to strengthen their defence.
One officer who commands the battle front said 'Army don't have forward defence line, but the Army do have forward offensive line'