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.