Daily Archives: August 8, 2006
Associated Press, Tue August 8, 2006 09:58 EDT . KRISHAN FRANCIS – Associated Press Writer – COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – (AP) Tamil rebels on Tuesday released water from a disputed reservoir in Sri Lanka – , ending a 19-day blockade that had sparked the worst fighting between government troops and guerrillas in four years.
“Our regional leader Elilan and people’s representatives went and opened the gates,” rebel spokesman Daya Master said.
“The government used this issue to harass our people attacked them, forcing displacement and starvation. Therefore we decided to open the gates,” he said.
On July 20, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels blocked water supplies to 60,000 people in government-controlled villages in northeastern Trincomalee district 215 kilometers (135 miles) northeast of Colombo.
They said the move was an attempt to force the government to fulfill the needs of people including drinking water in rebel-held villages, a rebel statement said Tuesday.
Tigers wanted “security of civilians who must travel between government and LTTE areas; to remove the ban on items imposed by the army; and to incorporate drinking water supply to their areas,” the statement said.
After initial talks failed, the government started an offensive to capture the areas around the reservoir. Violence spread to adjoining villages in Trincomalee, killing scores of people and leaving tens of thousands displaced.
An official casualty toll from the violence the worst since a 2002 Norway-brokered cease-fire has not been made available.
Tamil Tiger rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create a separate state for the country’s 3.2 million minority Tamils accusing majority Sinhalese of discrimination.
More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the cease-fire which is now nearly collapsed.
Via Global Order
COLOMBO (Reuters) August 8, 2006 – A car bomb exploded in Colombo on Tuesday, killing two people including a three-year-old boy as fighting continued in Sri Lanka’s northeast and the government vowed to probe the execution-style deaths of 17 aid staff.
The military said the two were killed when a minivan blew up in a residential quarter of the capital. Tamil politician Sivardasan, a senior member of a minority Tamil group opposed to Tamil Tiger rebels, was wounded and one of his bodyguards killed.
A Reuters witness at the scene saw the towel-draped body of a child lying on the tarmac as an elderly man wept nearby. The body of the second dead person was still in the van.
“The child is three years old. His mother is working as a maid here. We were going home after work when it exploded,” said the child’s grandfather, John Rathaya, 61.
“Why did they take my child. They could have taken me,” he added. “Let’s fight against terrorists. I will join you all.”
Government howitzers pounded Tamil Tiger positions near the northeastern port of Trincomalee as fighting continued for a 14th day. Suspected rebels shot dead an airman in Trincomalee, and two police commandos were killed further south in Ampara district.
The army said operations were also continuing south of Trincomalee where the government is trying to regain control of rebel-held water supplies, the dispute that kick-started the first ground fighting since a 2002 ceasefire.
Outside Trincomalee hospital, wailing relatives prepared to bury the 17 dead staff from international aid organization Action Contre la Faim (ACF), most of them shot in the head execution-style in the battle-ravaged town of Mutur.
It was the highest toll of aid workers in a single incident since the 2003 bombing of the UN’s Baghdad headquarters which killed at least 24.
More than 800 people had been killed this year even before the recent fighting, in which the military says it has killed more than 150 rebels. Dozens of civilians are said to be dead.
The Tigers have fought for an ethnic Tamil homeland for two decades in a civil war that has killed more than 65,000 people.
Via Global Order
The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officially commenced work on a state-of-the-art bridge over Arugam Bay yesterday.
The new bridge will replace the original bridge that was devastated in the tsunami. It is the single largest infrastructure project undertaken by USAID in Sri Lanka in its Tsunami Reconstruction Program (SLTRP).
Designed to last 100 years, the two spans totalling 185 meters will connect the communities of Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama. The bridge is expected to help enhance economic expansion of the fishing, agriculture and tourist industries.
Construction of 900 meters of asphalt paved access roads, and improvements to water supply systems will complement the improved access provided by the new bridge and will also foster tourism in the Arugam Bay area.
The value of the project is approximately US $ 10.6 million.
Present at the groundbreaking ceremony were Chairman of the Road Development Authority, M. B.S. Fernando, USAID Director Dr. Carol Becker, and U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires James Moore.
Speaking at the ceremony Dr. Becker said no one could repair the loss of life wrought by the tsunami, yet, reconstruction afforded an opportunity to help the country develop economically. She said Arugam Bay was a potential tourist attraction.
She added that the plan for the development scheme was created in consultation with the people of Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama.
Niroshana Silva, Chairman of the Lahugala Pradesha Saba said the bridge was important for all the people living in this area. -Daily MirrorBy Navaratne Samaratunge