From the news-stand

Sinhalese monk raises Tamil orphans

Taken by surprise!

The new US administration will never support efforts for a separate state in Sri Lanka

US terrorism report condemns LTTE

Blast rocks Sri Lankan capital

Thai authorities recover Sri Lankan rebel sub- Bangkok Post


US rules out Tamil state - BBC

Dividing Sri Lanka would mean rivers of blood - Globe & Mail

How Tamil Tiger Rebels terrorised Moslems - Reuters

Tamil Tiger Rebels 'Ethnically Cleanse' Parts of Sri Lanka - LA Times

Bomb blast in Sri Lanka [BBC]

Archbishop urges followers to donate blood [BBC]

UNO declares Vesak day an international holiday [AsiaNews]

03/10 Rebel attack in Sri Lanka  See Details

Women who kill-Los Angeles Times

High time international community brought pressure on Prabhakaran to hold talks with Government-Lord Naseby

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US terrorism report condemns LTTE

Aziz Haniffa, Washington
May 01, 2001 15:55 Hrs (IST)

HE US State Department's annual report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" has strongly condemned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for its continuing brand of ruthless terrorism and wanton violence against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka.

The report, released here Monday, noted that the LTTE -- "re-designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1999 -- remained violent in 2000, engaging in several terrorist acts against government and civilian targets", in its quest for a separate homeland for the island nation's minority Tamils.

It said LTTE attacks, "including those involving suicide bombers, killed more than 100 persons, including the Minister of Industrial Development (C.V.) Goonaratne, and wounded dozens".

The report also noted that two American citizens and a British national "were apparent incidental victims of the group in October, when an LTTE suicide bomber cornered by the police detonated his bomb near the Town Hall in Colombo."

Meanwhile, the report referred to the LTTE's continuing attacks against civilian shipping in Sri Lanka, "conducting a naval suicide bombing of a merchant vessel and hijacking of a Russian ship".

The report spoke of the raging battle in the north between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan security forces, although by the year's end the government had retaken 70 percent of the Jaffna Peninsula.

According to the report, the efforts to broker peace between the two parties by the Government of Norway "may have contributed to an LTTE decision to announce unilaterally a ceasefire in December".

It also noted that several terrorist acts have also been attributed to other domestic Sri Lankan groups, and said, "Suspected Sinhalese extremists protesting Norway's peace efforts used small impoverished explosive devices to attack the Norwegian-run charity Save the Children as well as the Norwegian Embassy."

In an appendix, the report in providing background information on terrorist groups, including those like the LTTE that have been designated Foreign Terrorists Organization by the US said the Tigers, founded in 1976, were the "most powerful Tamil group in Sri Lanka and use overt and illegal methods to raise funds, acquire weapons and publicize its cause of establishing an independent Tamil state".

It said the Tigers "have integrated a battlefield insurgent strategy with a terrorist program that targets not only key personnel in the countryside but also senior Sri Lankan political and military leaders in Colombo and other urban centers", and referred to the groups most notorious cadre of suicide bombers, "the Black Tigers".

"Political assassinations and bombings are commonplace," the report said, but noted that "the LTTE has refrained from targeting foreign diplomatic and commercial establishments."

It said the exact strength of the group is unknown, but is estimated to have 8,000 to 10,000 armed combatants in Sri Lanka, with a core of trained fighters of approximately 3,000 to 6,000. "The LTTE also has a significant overseas support structure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities," the report added.

The report said the LTTE's "overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations", and said the group also "uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications and any other equipment and supplies it needs".

In this regard, it said, "The LTTE exploits large Tamil communities in North America, Europe and Asia to obtain funds and supplies for its fighters in Sri Lanka." According to the report, "Information obtained since the mid-1980s indicates that some Tamil communities in Europe are also involved in narcotics smuggling."

India Abroad News Service

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Blast rocks Sri Lankan capital (BBC Sept. 15, 2000)

The area was sealed off after the attack

Sri Lankan police say that seven people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in the capital, Colombo. At least 20 people were wounded in the attack, which was believed to have been carried out by a member of the Tamil Tiger separatist movement.

Officials say that at least six of the injured are in a serious condition.

The explosion occurred near the health ministry and an eye hospital.

An army spokesman said the target of the attack was unclear, but an army vehicle had been passing at the time.

However, one report said that the intended target might have been the health minister, Nimal Siripala de Silva.

Another possible target was the hospital itself, where government soldiers wounded in the civil war are being treated.

Heavy fighting

Reports say the bomber might have detonated the explosives as he was about to be searched.

Taxi drivers in the vicinity were said to be uneasy about a man pacing up and down outside the hospital, and pointed him out to a policeman.

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9-Jun-2000 -- EWTN News Brief


COLOMBO ( - The Sri Lankan bishops' conference has issued a message strongly condemning the killing of Government Minister C.V. Gunaratne, one of the country's most prominent lay Catholics, by a suspected LTTE suicide bomber.

The bishops remembered the efforts of Gunaratne to forge bonds among different racial and religious groups in the country. "His concern for the just rights of the minorities, his concern for the welfare of the poor, and his particular interest in looking into the just grievances of the Christian community make us particularly respect him as a man who made no secret of his religious convictions and we appreciate the services he rendered to the Christian community," they said.

The minister was killed instantaneously when a suicide bomber offered him a traditional sheaf of betel in greeting and then clasped him, detonating the bomb. His wife, who was critically injured, died Thursday. The government has called for restraint since the minister was very popular and the death of both him and his wife has stunned and shaken many people.

Archbishop Nicholas Marcus Fernando of Colombo has condemned the assassination, saying: "The senseless act of violence which claimed the lives of 22 others and wounded over 60 people shows the total disregard for life and human rights on the part of the terrorists." The funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
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Sub discovery thwarts sabotage plot - Bangkok Post June 7, 2000

Separatist activity in South confirmed

Sermsuk Kasitipradit and Atthaya Chuen-nirun

A half-built submersible found in a Phuket shipyard part owned by a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel is destined for sabotage missions in Sri Lanka, an intelligence official said yesterday.

The official said the discovery confirmed suspicions the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had shifted regional operations to the South.

Intelligence officials stumbled on to this submersible, owned by the Tamil Tigers, at a Phuket shipyard. The submarine was in two parts which were to be put together; the hull, main picture, and the stern.

The vessel is believed to be of the same type as one seized by Sri Lankan forces from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Jaffna in the early 90s.

"This surprise discovery of the submersible would certainly affect the Tigers' activities in the South," said the intelligence official.

Gen Surayud Chulanont, the army commander, and Lt-Gen Narong Den-udom, the Fourth Army chief, had been briefed about Tamil Tiger activity in the South, including the discovery of the submersible in Phuket.

Gen Surayud had made it clear earlier the army was aware of Tamil Tiger activity in the Phuket area.

Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka's foreign minister, had alleged early this year that Tamil Tiger rebels were using Phuket and the Andaman coast to channel weapons to Jaffna.

The submersible, found in the Seacraft shipyard on Koh Si-rae, is reportedly owned by Christy Reginald Lawrence, a Jaffna-born Tamil who holds a Norwegian passport. Intelligence officials have long suspected Mr Lawrence to be a member of the Tigers.

Governor Charnchai Suntornmuch of Phuket was taken aback by the discovery even though he had already contacted security agencies for a thorough inspection of the vessel and the shipyard.

"From now on we have to be more strict about inspections of shipyards in Phuket," said Mr Charnchai, who had earlier dismissed a Bangkok Post report of the discovery of the submersible.

Mr Lawrence was arrested in April aboard a speedboat during operations by local police against oil smugglers in the Andaman Sea. Instead of oil, police said they found Tamil Tigers-related materials including military fatigues and sophisticated equipment that included radar and sonar.

Local security officials had decided to make further search on Lawrence-owned shipyard and had stumbled on the vessel, about 10m long that could accommodate two or three people.

A Thai co-owner of the shipyard, who asked not to be identified, said he had not been aware of Mr Lawrence's activities in Phuket nor his alleged connection with the Tamil Tigers.

He admitted, however, he had been suspicious about Mr Lawrence's activities but dared not ask.

Apart from Mr Lawrence, an American was another co-owner, he added.

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Monday, 29 May, 2000, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
US rules out Tamil state BBC

The Tigers are fighting to retake Jaffna

A senior US State Department official, Thomas Pickering, has ruled out a separate state as demanded by Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka. Speaking at the end of a brief visit to Sri Lanka, Mr Pickering said: "I don't believe there is any international support that I can find for a new separate state of Eelam here in this island."

His comments come as government forces attempt to stop a rebel advance in the northern Jaffna peninsula, once a Tiger stronghold.

Mr Pickering said he believed that continuing diplomatic efforts to end the fighting were starting to make a difference.

Thomas Pickering: Diplomacy will make a difference

He also said that both the US and India were prepared to defer to the leadership of Norway, which has been trying to bring the two sides together for more than a year.

"We would be supportive of any constructive role that India and the US can play in helping to resolve the problem," he said.

Humanitarian concerns

Mr Pickering, who has met President Kumaratunga, opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and other politicians, also voiced fears for the safety of the civilian population in the war zone.

"All of us remain concerned, particularly in the conflict ongoing in the Jaffna peninsula, as to the fact that innocent civilians are caught between both sides, put in danger," he said.

Hundreds of thousands may have been displaced

He said that although estimates varied, hundreds of thousands of people may have been displaced by the fighting.

He also said he had discussed recent measures by the government to restrict freedom of expression and civil liberties.

"I don't think it's been good, and I've certainly left that impression here," he said.

The BBC's Susannah Price in Colombo says that despite the critical references to the emergency measures, the government will undoubtedly be pleased with this public show of support from the United States, which has already banned the Tamil Tigers.

Naval encounter

As the US mission got under way, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry said it had sunk two Tamil Tiger boats off the Jaffna peninsula.

"Both LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) boats were destroyed together with the occupants due to naval gun fire," the government said, adding that five more rebel boats were also attacked.

A spokesman for the Sri Lankan military said government forces continued to attack rebel positions in the Jaffna peninsula.

"Identified Tiger targets were taken yesterday," the spokesman said on Monday.

"Weapons and ammunition are being sent to Jaffna on a daily basis and the Tigers are now on the defensive," he said.

The Tigers declared a 12-hour ceasefire on Saturday to allow civilians to flee the fighting.

More than 450 families are reported to have left.

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Dividing Sri Lanka would mean rivers of blood
The goal of the Tamil Tigers is illegitimate and unattainable

Monday, May 29, 2000

The recent military successes recorded by Tamil> separatist rebels in Sri Lanka may give the impression that they are on the verge of realizing their dream of an independent Tamil homeland. That impression is false. The quest for a Tamil homeland is a futile, self-destructive struggle waged by a ruthless terrorist group in pursuit of an unattainable goal.

The rebels, known as the Tamil Tigers, have been fighting for the past 17 years to carve out a Tamil state in the north and east of the tear-shaped island once known as Ceylon. More than 55,000 people have been killed. Last month, the Tigers scored one of their biggest victories when they captured an important government base and seized the Elephant Pass, gateway to the symbolically significant Jaffna peninsula. They now threaten to overrun Jaffna and the 30,000 government soldiers trapped there.

The government has been rocked back on its heels by the Tiger advances. Yesterday, in the latest sign of desperation, it appealed to retired officers and young people to join the armed forces in defence of national unity. But it is nonsense to think that President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her government are about to lie down and let the Tigers bite off a piece of the country. Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority would never stand for it.

Nor, for that matter, would India, Sri Lanka's giant neighbour, which has troubles of its own with separatists. Even if Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran manages to seize all of the north and east and declare independence, the international community is unlikely to recognize a would-be country run by terrorists. In the course of their struggle, the Tigers have recruited child soldiers, bombed office buildings and used suicide bombers to assassinate Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and attempt to assassinate Mrs. Kumaratunga.

Putting aside the political barriers, the case for a independent Tamil state is weak. Something like half of the country's Tamil are thought to live in the south. What would happen to them if the north and east broke away? More than likely, they would be forced to flee to the new state, just as Muslims in India and Hindus in Pakistan were forced to flee during the partition of 1947, when a million died. In the north and east itself, there are large Buddhist and Muslim minorities. Their prospects are equally bleak. All the ingredients exist in Sri Lanka for a South Asian Bosnia, a war of all against all over blood and soil. Such a struggle would make the country's current troubles seem almost trivial.

The best way to avoid that outcome is to grant wide-ranging autonomy to the Tamil within a united Sri Lanka. That would satisfy the Tamil need for security and self-government and the Sinhalese desire for the integrity of the state. Mrs. Kumaratunga was preparing to make such an offer when the Tigers launched their offensive in April. The intransigent Mr. Prabhakaran, a cult-like figure notorious for his extremism, rejects anything but all-out independence.

That is not on; not now, nor in any imaginable future. Any attempt to solve the troubles in Sri Lanka must be premised on the assumption that the country is indivisible and the realization that dividing it would mean rivers of blood. The Tigers are a terrorist group using illegitimate methods in an unattainable cause. They and their cause deserve to be shunned.

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Moslems, the forgotten victims of Sri Lanka's war
By John Chalmers - 24 May 2000 13:44GMT

PUTTALAM, Sri Lanka, May 24 (Reuters) (CENSORED) - One evening in October 1990, Ismath Indon was suddenly faced with a choice between life or death.

He had two hours to close his thriving meat shop, and leave Jaffna city with his wife, five children and a few armfuls of belongings -- or be shot by separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

"They came at seven o'clock and said all Moslems must be out by nine o'clock or they would start killing people. They had guns and we were all frightened," said Indon, who joined an exodus of 110,000 Moslems from Sri Lanka's strife-torn northern province.

Ten years on, Indon lives in an open refugee camp in Puttalam, a Moslem-dominated coastal town 120 km (75 miles) north of the capital Colombo.

He has no voting rights, no running water in his rickety hut, no access to proper medical care, no job and -- as fighting rages again in Jaffna -- no real hope of ever returning to his home.

Classified only as "internally displaced people", the exiled Moslems are not eligible for support from the United Nations' refugee arm. And there is concern that the World Food Programme may stop providing rations on which so many of them depend.

Before Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict took off in 1983, some 750,000 Tamils, Moslems and Sinhalese lived side by side in the Jaffna peninsula, a flat and arid spur of land at the northern tip of the Indian Ocean island.

But after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) seized Jaffna from government troops in 1990, the population shrank to around 500,000 as non-Tamils were sent packing.

Few hesitate to dub it ethnic cleansing.


Since then, tension and distrust have replaced the mutual respect that Tamils and Moslems shared as minority communities. Sinhalese make up nearly three-quarters of Sri Lanka's 19 million people, Tamils about 18 percent and Moslems just 7.5 percent.

Moslems have been targeted several times by Tamil Tiger rebels, who have left a trail of death in their quest for a separate state -- or Eelam -- on the northern and eastern rim of the island.

Several months before Indon and his family fled in terror from Jaffna, rebels massacred 140 Moslems as they prayed at a mosque in the eastern coast district of Batticaloa. Nine days later, they struck again in the same area, killing 122.

In 1995, Moslems in Puttalam received photocopies of a letter signed in the name of the LTTE which told them to leave town within 10 days or meet the same fate as their brothers in Batticaloa.

Nothing happened.

But fear of the Tigers is still palpable in Puttalam, which falls inside the homeland that Velupillai Prabhakaran -- the LTTE's ruthlessly single-minded supremo -- is pursuing from his jungle hideout.

M.S. Bazeer, a 55-year-old teacher who also left Jaffna in 1990, appeared anxious not to criticise the LTTE as he told his story, and said it was bombing that forced him out.

"They didn't threaten us. We don't have any problems with the LTTE. They respected us. You must tell the whole story," he said.


Although they have found a temporary home, the Jaffna Moslems feel alienated even in Puttalam. Many local people resent the sudden burst of competition for employment and scarce resources, and critics say the local authorities neglect their basic needs.

Town officials directed Reuters to District Secretary J.R. Dissanayake for information on the Moslem refugees.

But even he was unable to give a ready breakdown of the number of refugees, the number living in camps and the total cost to the government of dishing out food rations.

Typically, a family of three which does not benefit from World Food Programme rations receives coupons from the government worth 420 rupees ($5.60) every 15 days.

Rohan Edrisinha, a lawyer who works for a Colombo-based non-governmental organisation, the Centre for Policy Alternatives, has launched a legal drive to win basic rights for the refugees.

He says that because they don't come under the jurisdiction of the northwestern province to which Puttalam belongs, they are treated as outsiders and not citizens.

Edrisinha wants the waiver of a property law which stipulates that the right of ownership is lost if abandoned for 10 years for those who left rice fields, farms and houses behind in Jaffna. Without this, the refugees would have no incentive to go back, even if peace returned to the peninsula.

He is also pleading for the refugees' right to health services and education, and has also brought a case -- he lost the first round -- to win them voting rights.

"Once they get a right to vote, political parties will start treating them with more respect," he said. "The refugees' dignity and self-respect are at stake...and we are trying to get the authorities to address some of their basic needs."

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Tamil Tiger Rebels 'Ethnically Cleanse' Parts of Sri Lanka

By DEXTER FILKINS, Times Staff Writer

     KALAYANAPURA, Sri Lanka--As Tamil separatists sweep toward victory on the battlefield, they are beginning to cleanse their land of the people who were once their neighbors.
     The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have won a series of victories against Sri Lankan forces in recent weeks, are stepping up attacks against ethnic Sinhalese civilians living in the region that the rebels claim as their homeland.
     The Tigers are bombing schools, wrecking Buddhist temples and shooting civilians in a campaign to force thousands of ethnic Sinhalese from their homes. The attacks are directed at Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese living in areas dominated by the mostly Hindu Tamils.
     The attacks, overshadowed by the recent military engagements on the northern tip of this island nation off the coast of India, portend a grim round of ethnic expulsions as the Tigers inch closer to their goal of a separate state for the minority Tamils.
     "They want us to leave, but we have nowhere to go," said Kadirathage Ran Keranhamy, a Sinhalese rice farmer whose 21-year-old son was kidnapped Saturday by Tiger guerrillas. "We are brothers. Why are they doing this to us?"
     Keranhamy lives here in Kalayanapura, one of a cluster of Sinhalese villages in the sprawling tropical flatlands of northeastern Sri Lanka. The villages, populated by more than 10,000 Sinhalese, are an island in a sea of Tamils. Kalayanapura is part of the region earmarked by the Tigers for a future nation.
     As guerrillas have rolled over government forces on the Jaffna peninsula, the attacks on these Sinhalese villages about 80 miles to the south have grown in frequency and ferocity. Tiger guerrillas are stepping up their activities as hundreds of Sri Lankan troops are moving out of this region to help their besieged comrades.
     "We just don't have enough troops to protect the villages," said Maj. Gen. A.K. Jayawardhana, the provincial governor.
     In Kalayanapura, a hamlet of simple brick houses and about 600 people, the Tigers come at night. They set fire to rice crops and sweep homes with searchlights and gunfire. Last month, guerrillas blew up a school in a neighboring village. On occasion, the guerrillas abduct the Sinhalese men and boys who work the rice paddies; more than 30 have disappeared in the area since 1995. None have returned, and few bodies have been found. An additional 15 people have died in shellings and shootings.
     More than a dozen villagers have already packed up and left, and others say they are considering leaving. Those who remain are so terrified of attack that they carry their straw mats into the jungle at night to sleep.
     "When the sun goes down, our houses are empty," said Indrawathi, a 39-year-old villager who sleeps in the jungle. "We are too afraid."
     The Sinhalese villages are the victims of the tangled myths of Sri Lanka's history and the bloody realities of its civil war. In the 17 years since the conflict began, more than 60,000 people have been killed. The Tamils began their struggle after enduring years of discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese. The Tamils' fight is being led by the Tigers, a fanatical guerrilla organization that has killed some moderate Tamil rivals. The U.S. government has declared the Tigers a terrorist group.
     Though the Tamils make up less than 20% of Sri Lanka's population, the Tigers are claiming as much as a third of the nation's land area--the northern and eastern rim of the island. The imagined Tiger nation includes the entire Eastern province, where the village of Kalayanapura sits. According to estimates, Eastern province is less than half Tamil, but the Tigers want it all.
     Some of the Sinhalese who live in Eastern province were settled as part of government-sponsored land giveaways--a major grievance of the Tamils. But many of the province's Sinhalese villages, including Kalayanapura, have been settled for generations.
     Some historians say that the Tigers' secretive leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is trying to revive the old realms of the 13th century Jaffna kings--and then some. The Tamil nation sketched out in Tiger propaganda overlaps with the Sinhalese kingdoms that came later. Those kingdoms stretched northward all the way to Kalayanapura.
     "What the Tigers have done is imagine that the Tamil kingdom is much larger than it ever was," said K.M. DeSilva, former chairman of the history department at the University of Ceylon and author of several books on the conflict. "It's a myth, but whether in Kosovo or Sri Lanka, national myths are extremely powerful."
     The Tigers' dreams bear directly on the villagers of Kalayanapura. In the Tigers' imagined nation, the Sinhalese would be a minority. Or, if the villagers heeded the recent shootings and kidnappings, they wouldn't be around at all.
     Sitting under the shade of a jackfruit tree, Keranhamy, the rice farmer, recalled the day last week when the Tiger guerrillas kidnapped his son. Keranhamy and his son were husking rice they had harvested from their 3-acre paddy when four men appeared just before sundown. Unlike the villagers, who mainly wear sarongs, the four men wore trousers and carried guns.
     Keranhamy's son, Vimal, ran. Keranhamy, a 50-year-old farmer who looks older than his years, was too slow. The guerrillas tore a piece of his sarong to bind his hands. Keranhamy pleaded with the Tigers in his native Sinhala tongue, but the guerrillas didn't understand.
     "I spoke to them nicely, I told them we were brothers, and they hit me," said Keranhamy, nursing an eye blackened by a rifle butt.
     As the guerrillas began to blindfold him, he heard gunfire. Keranhamy doesn't know who fired the shots, but they gave him the break he needed: He dashed off into the paddies and dived into the mud.
     "I never thought I would escape," he said.
     Other Tigers were spotted by villagers that evening. Vimal and three other villagers are still missing. The body of one resident was found the next morning in a paddy.
     The disappearance of Vimal is not the first time that Sri Lanka's civil war has brought tragedy to the family. Tiger guerrillas killed Keranhamy's in-laws in 1990. After that, he took his family away. But they returned after 10 months because Kalayanapura is their home. After Vimal's disappearance, the Keranhamys sent their 12-year-old daughter, Sujiva, to live with relatives in another district.
     Four days after the disappearance, Vimal's mother did not have much to say. In a long drive through the Sri Lankan countryside, Vimalawathi stared out the car window and silently wept.
     The tragedy of the Keranhamy family was relieved slightly by an unexpected gesture of goodwill. Among those abducted Saturday was Pinhamy Dissanayake, a Sinhalese villager. The guerrillas also tried to take Dissanayake's sons, Jayawardana, 15, and Sunil, 13.
     R. Rashid, a 33-year-old Muslim laborer, asked the Tigers to spare the boys. Muslims, a minority community in Sri Lanka, have recently been spared the mistreatment inflicted on the Sinhalese. The guerrillas told Rashid that they would keep the boys.
     According to several villagers, Rashid faced down the guerrillas, grabbed the boys by the scruffs of their necks and led them away. Stunned, the Tiger guerrillas did not shoot.
     "Tell the village it will be destroyed by May 25," the guerrillas said as they walked away with their hostages.
     Rashid, a quiet man who earns a few dollars a week harvesting rice, said the blood drained from his body when he confronted the guerrillas. Recalling the episode, he tried to explain what gave him the courage to step forward to save the boys.
     "I had pity for the boys," Rashid said. "I have children too."

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Bomb blast in Sri Lanka [BBC]

More than 20 people have been killed and 75 injured in a bomb explosion in eastern Sri Lanka.
The bomb went off in the eastern town of Batticaloa during celebrations to mark the holiest day of the Buddhist calendar, known as Wesak.
It exploded near the Buddhist temple in the town inside a high security zone.
It is not known who carried out the attack although in the past, Tamil Tiger rebels have been blamed for targeting security forces and police in the area using bombs and landmines.
Local residents said the bomb was placed in an ice-cream box on a bicycle.
The celebrations were attended by large numbers of people from the armed forces and police as well as local civilians.
Most of the dead were civilians, but they also included a police constable and two soldiers.

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Archbishop urges followers to donate blood [BBC]

The Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has urged followers to donate blood to treat soldiers wounded while fighting Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Nicholas Marcus Fernando, made his plea in a pastoral letter, where he also asked Catholics to show their solidarity with government soldiers by cutting down on celebrations and to devote two days at the end of May the 27th and 28th as special days of prayers for peace. Government troops are locked in fierce combat with the separatist Tiger rebels in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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UNO declares Vesak day an international holiday [AsiaNews]

The United Nations Organization (UNO) has declared Vesak full moon Poya day as an international holiday from this year. The new millennium's first Vesak full moon Poya falls on May 17.

The day of Vesak, which marks the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Lord Buddha falls on the full-moon day of the month of May. As a mark of respect for this great spiritual teacher of humanity whose teachings provide guidance and inspiration to nearly a quarter of the world's population, the United Nations Organization has declared Vesak full moon day as an international holiday.

To commemorate the Vesak full moon poya day and for declaring it as an international holiday, the UNO has organized a special Vesak festival on May 15 at the UNO General Secretary's auditorium in New York.

Buddha Sasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs Minister Lakshman Jayakody has been invited to deliver the main lecture on this occasion. 'This historical moment will be a great honour to the country,' said an official of the Cultural and Religious Affairs Ministry.

The Vesak festival is being organized under the guidance of Sri Lanka Ambassador for United States of America, Mr. John de Saram. 189 representatives from the UNO member countries are expected to participate at the festival.

The proposal for declaring Vesak full moon Poya day as an international holiday was one of the main recommendations submitted by the foreign and local Buddhist delegates who met at the International Buddhist Conference held at the BMICH in Colombo, in November 1998.

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Rebel attack in Sri Lanka

At least 21 people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in a suicide bombing and ensuing gun battle in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. From BBC

The government said the fighting broke out when two policemen tried to check on a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel.
He was at a tea kiosk near the Ceremonial Drive that leads to the national parliament building.
The constables were killed and later one of the rebels detonated explosives strapped to his body.
Several of his colleagues exploded grenades and fired indiscriminately at vehicles trapped in the evening rush-hour traffic.
Reports said several people were caught in the cross-fire.
Police said the attackers, believed to be members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also fired rocket-propelled grenades along the highway that is used by ministers and legislators to return from parliament.

Commandos take up position in Colombo

Nimal Gunatilleke, a top police official, said he believed the attackers may have been lying in wait for Deputy Defence Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte, who had been due to take that route after a parliamentary debate.
One of the minister's advance security vehicles was hit by a grenade. The minister, who was not in the vicinity at the time of the attack, has been co-ordinating the war against the Tigers.
Security personnel gunned down two of the attackers, including a suicide bomber, and commandos defused the explosives strapped to him.
A gun battle followed as several other rebels fled the area by detonating at least four other bombs or grenades.
The government said that security forces were conducting a cordon and search operation in the area, to locate the Tigers who escaped.
Police said many of the wounded were in a critical condition in hospital, and fatalities were expected to rise.

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High time international community brought pressure on Prabhakaran to hold talks with Government-Lord Naseby

Daily News

British-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Groups Joint Chairman Lord Naseby told the House of Lords recently that it was high time that the international community brought pressure on LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to hold talks with the Government of Sri Lanka. He also expressed his belief that the United Kingdom could play a significant role in bringing some pressure on Prabhakaran and all other parties to get together.

Quoting excerpts from the President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's acceptance speech following her victory at the December 21 Presidential election where she emphasised the need to exercise influence to bring the LTTE leader to the negotiating table, Lord Naseby said: "... on the invitation of that Government, I feel that the international community could play a significant role to advance the peace process".

Lord Naseby who paid a tribute to the British Government for signing the United Nation's Convention for the Suppression of terrorist Financing expressed the hope that was not a mere piece of paper, but that action would flow from it. "In this country it is known that the LTTE is collecting funds," he pointed out.

He added: "I speak personally now, I find it repulsive that tonight in Camden there is an office of the LTTE".

Lord Naseby prefaced his remarks with a reference to the threat facing the Maldives of being submerged in the event of a high tidal wave due to global warming and later referring to the situation in Sri Lanka said in his speech in the Home of Friends:

'I now turn to Sri Lanka, which is one area of the world where there is significant conflict. It has particularly close ties with this country. I do not know whether I should declare an interest, but I am joint chairman of the British Sri Lankan parliamentary group.

I hope that all noble Lords will give unreserved condemnation to the recent acts of terrorism committed by the LTTE. The recent bomb attacks on 18th December - just before Christmas - injured President Chandrika Kumaratunga, killed 21 people and left 110 severely injured. There was another bomb on 5th January outside the office of the Prime Minister, which resulted in the death of 12 more people and injured another 20. Understandably, such acts of terrorism have, for the moment, stalled negotiations aimed at progressing the peace process.

Despite the bomb attack on the President, in which she lost an eye - I do not need to remind your Lordships that her father and her husband have been assassinated - the President election went ahead, which is a true reflection of the strength of democracy in that country. Even after that, in her acceptance speech having won the presidential election, she was brave enough to say,

"I urge you to use every ounce of influence at your disposal to bring Mr. Prabhakaran to the negotiations table without further delay. I urge you to persuade with every conceivable argument anyone who is a member or a supporter of the LTTE to renounce violence and join us in establishing peace."

That was not just a message to those in Sri Lanka; it was a message to the world. There are significant numbers of Sri Lankans in the United States, Canada, Germany had not least in this country. I hope that those in this country, who are known to support the LTTE, will heed those words.

In that speech she put out a hand of friendship to Ranil Wickremesinghe whom I have known, I guess, for some 20 years. He is the leader of the main opposition, the United National Party. She sought from him a bi-partisan approach to finding a peaceful solution to the problem. Despite the understandable political differences which we have across this Chamber sometimes, there we have across this Chamber sometimes, there are occasions when we work together. Her Majesty's Government could help in trying to ensure that that message is conveyed to the government and opposition in Sri Lanka. This country is held in the greatest respect in Sri Lanka and I am sure that we can assist in that regard.

I turn to the international situation in Sri Lanka and the international community and ask the question: is it not now time for the international community to put pressure on Mr. Prabhakaran to hold talks with the Government of Sri Lanka. And, on the invitation of that Government, I feel that the international community could play a significant role to advance the peace process.

Those in Government who listened to the interview of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth on the World Service, to which I listened, will know that he was involved in the meditation attempts in 1997, and more recently Norway has been involved. I hope I do not express too partisan a wish in my belief that the United Kingdom could play a significant role in bringing some pressure on Mr. Prabhakaran and all other parties to get together. When I read about and listen to the Secretary General telling us that he only communicated with Mr. Prabhakaran, I feel that that is not satisfactory. Whoever is in that role must see the man face to face; it is not enough to have an intermediary.

I recent days Britain signed the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing. Indeed, I pay tribute to the Government for signing that on the very day it between available for signature. But I hope it is not just a piece of paper but that action will flow from it. In this country it is known that the LTTE is collecting funds. I do not mean a charity day with a flag; I mean protectionism; money being extorted from Sri Lankans living in this country. Unless they pay up, as your Lordships know only too well, their families will suffer. That's the way terrorism works. Many in this Chamber have as much experience of it as I have.

I speak personally now: I find it repulsive that tonight, in Camden, there is an office of the LTTE. That is not acceptable. Given that we passed the new Terrorist Act in the last Session, which gives us powers to prevent parties from carrying out, planning or preparing terrorist activities, I hope that high on the agenda-leaving aside the Sikh problem-will be the LTTE. I realise that it is not the responsibility of the foreign minister, but there is evidence that junior officers of the LTTE are seeking asylum in this country in order to keep the conflict going. The Home Office should pay some attention to that problem.

I want to end on a positive note. Sri Lanka is a highly literate society. The people are pro-British. Nevertheless, it is a developing country, though it is not the poorest country by a long shot. However, there are great challenges to be faced in that part of the world. Its growth runs at around 5 per cent a year. Understandably that growth is stifled by the fact that 5 per cent of GNP goes to cover the cost of war. If the United Kingdom, in the international community, could find a solution, it would allow a further 50 per cent growth. That sort of growth is so significant that it would have an incredible effect on all the people of Sri Lanka, be they Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim, Burger. That is a power well worth striving for, I ask Her Majesty's Government to recognise that this is a problem to which we must find a solution. It is a key problem. It has been going on for nearly 20 years and urgently needs resolving. It is time that this Government played an active role in the international community to get that moving."

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01/10 Train Bomb defused

Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- Authorities found and defused an explosive on a railroad track in central Sri Lanka on Thursday, averting another in a series of public transportation bombings in the last week.

No one has claimed responsibility for the seven bus bombs in the past week across Sri Lanka, but defense ministry spokesman Brigadier Palitha Fernando has blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The government appointed a high-powered committee Thursday to investigate the explosions and recommend "urgent steps to combat these systematic acts of terror."

The bomb found Thursday was in Badulla, about 100 miles east of the capital, Colombo. Badulla is the gateway to the eastern province where Tamils are the majority.

On Wednesday, police arrested three Tamils suspected in the bombing of two buses in Colombo on Tuesday that left four people dead and 47 wounded.

In Colombo, Deputy Inspector General of Police Gamini Ran- deniya said the accused were masquerading as roadside hawkers and traders around the Pettah Bus Station when the explosions took place.

One of the men was wounded in the blast and was arrested when he resisted attempts by a rescue team to take him to hospital.

During interrogation, he confessed that he and two other men were involved in the bombings. Police then arrested the other two, police said.

Police and transport officials have announced special precau- tions against further attacks. Parked buses will be locked and bus drivers and ticket collectors have been told to be more vigi- lant in checking passengers.

Meanwhile, government troops killed 11 rebels in clashes Wednesday, a defense ministry spokesman said.

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Opdateret d. 19/10/01