The Sri Lanka Air Force on Friday (20)
shot down two LTTE aircraft that entered
the Colombo city on a suicide mission.
One aircraft crashed in to the Inland
Revenue Department while the other
crashed in to a marshy land in
Katunayake. Photo shows two SLAF
personnel looking at the fallen LTTE
Tiger Air Force destroyed says military
The military yesterday claimed to have
destroyed the LTTE’s air power by brining
down the two remaining aircraft on Friday
Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara said the LTTE possessed three
aircraft and all of them were now destroyed.
The military claimed that the Sri Lanka
Air Force (SLAF) destroyed the first
aircraft on September 9 when the LTTE
carried out an air and ground attack on the
air force base in Vavuniya.
Nanayakkara at a press conference
yesterday at the Government Information
Department said that all aircraft belonging
to the Tigers were destroyed when two of
them were shot down last Friday night.
One of the aircraft crashed on to the
Inland Revenue Department building while the
other crashed close to the Katunayake air
force camp. He said that each plane carried
215 kilograms of C4 explosives.
"We suspect that they targeted the Air
Force headquarters, but they had failed in
their mission. The aircraft had taken off
from Puthukudiyiruppu," he said. Nanayakkara
added it was a suicide mission.
The explosion at the Inland Revenue
Department building was initially attributed
to a bomb that was dropped by one of the
LTTE aircraft. However, it was later
confirmed that the explosion was due to the
crashing of an LTTE aircraft on to the
building between the third and 12th floors.
Two persons were killed and more than 40
injured due to the attack last Friday.
The air defence system in Colombo was
activated around 9.20 p.m. on Friday when
reports of two aircraft flying over Vavuniya
was reported to Colombo.
The power supply to many parts of Colombo
was turned off as a precautionary measure as
soon as the air defence system was
The aircraft had been hit by the air
defence system that was activated at the
time. This was the seventh LTTE air attack
since March 2007 in its tiny aircraft, which
are believed to be Czech-built Zlin Z-143.
The Sunday Leader learns it was the
Indian built radars installed in Vavuniya
that had first noticed that LTTE planes had
taken off on their radar monitors. The
security forces had acted promptly to follow
the aircraft and were on trail from Mannar.
It is also learnt the possible targets
could have been the SLAF facility at Slave
Island and the Kelanitissa Power station and
with the anti aircraft fire thwarting the
original plan makeshift targets were
attacked. One aircraft in a 9/11 style
effort crashed into the Inland Revenue
Department building located opposite the
SLAF headquarters. The Trans Asia Hotel,
which is adjacent, was also damaged though
slightly. The other aircraft veered off in
the direction of the Bandaranaike Airport,
but was shot down. It was inevitable that
these planes would be shot down sooner than
According to military sources, the LTTE’s
Friday night attack showed the Tigers were
desperate and weak at this juncture to have
thrown in two aircraft in a kamikaze style.
website Tamilnet said the LTTE had on Friday
claimed two aircraft of Black Air Tiger
mission diving into SLAF headquarters in
Colombo and into the SLAF base at Katunayake,
carrying out successful air raids.
The Tigers had also
released a photograph of the two Black Air
Tigers, Col. Roopan and Lt. Col.
Siriththiran with LTTE leader Velupillai
Pirapaharan before embarking on their
It has also been reported
that both the Black Air Tiger pilots have
earlier been decorated with Blue Tiger award
for having carried out successful air raids
on enemy targets.
breakthrough without GA report say police
By Nirmala Kannangara
The Government Analyst (GA) has sought
more time to release the report on the
assassination of The Sunday Leader
Editor-in-Chief, Lasantha Wickrematunge
citing there were further tests to be done
to ascertain more details on the murder,
The Sunday Leader learns.
Police Spokesperson SSP
Ranjith Gunasekara told The Sunday Leader
that the GA report is vital for a
breakthrough and to find out the type of gun
that was used to kill Wickrematunge.
However, he said that since more time has
been sought for a complete appraisal, the GA
report would be further delayed.
The Mt. Lavinia
Magistrate Harsha Setunaga on Thursday (19)
postponed Wickrematunge’s murder trial by a
month till March 19.
When queried as to what
progress the four police investigating teams
have made to date, Gunasekara said that all
telephone calls received by Wickrematunge on
the day of the assassination have been
traced and further investigations are to be
based on that.
"The police requested the
Mt. Lavinia Magistrate to grant a court
order to refer the telephone numbers to the
Data Processing Department of the Moratuwa
University and since the request has been
granted details of the calls could now be
traced easily," Gunasekara said.
Gunasekara further said
the two suspects alleged to have had a link
to the murder are to be further interrogated
for more details.
Meanwhile, the Mt.
Lavinia Magistrate on Thursday (19)
instructed the Mt. Lavinia police to release
Wickrematunge’s car and other belongings
that were removed from the scene to his
brother and The Sunday Leader
Managing Editor, Lal Wickrematunge.
Mihin to get fresh lease
By Frederica Jansz
SriLankan Airlines has been coerced by
the government into providing a bailout
package, which will give Mihin Lanka another
fresh lease of life, despite the budget
carrier having recorded a Rs. 3.2 billion
confirmed to The Sunday Leader that
it will be procuring a narrow bodied
aircraft to be wet leased to Mihin Lanka.
The airline in an
official statement released to The Sunday
Leader said, "SriLankan Airlines is
presently in discussions to wet-lease a
twin-engined Airbus A320 aircraft to Mihin
Lanka from April 2009.
"The agreement is to be
on commercial terms, with payment to be made
to SriLankan on an up-front basis. Subject
to this, Mihin Lanka will obtain an Airbus
aircraft and crew suited to its current
operations at a cost effective, financially
viable way. The wet-leasing of aircraft
includes the services of pilots."
Acting Chairman, Mihin
Lanka, Kapila Chandrasena however claimed he
knew nothing of the deal. Chandrasena, is
not only Acting Chairman, Mihin Lanka but
also on the Board of Directors of SriLankan
Airlines. Chandrasena however said he could
not speak for the government.
At a high level meeting
Chaired by Ports and Aviation Minister
Chamal Rajapakse, held on Wednesday,
February 18, SriLankan Airlines agreed to
procure an aircraft to be wet leased to
Meanwhile The Sunday
Leader has reliably learnt that Chandrasena
was lying when he denied any knowledge of
the deal to this newspaper as unimpeachable
sources confirmed that the Acting Chairman
was indeed present at the crucial meeting
where the modalities of the agreement were
The deal with SriLankan
is not without conditions. Mihin Lanka has
to pay US$ 8 million (approx. SLR 896
million) up front as a condition precedent.
The government is to also
pay the existing debt obligations of Mihin
Lanka to SriLankan Airlines amounting to US$
1.35 million (approx. SLR 151.2 million)
Mihin Lanka is to carry
out its own commercial operations. The
budget carrier has also been told to submit
a Business Plan as a condition precedent to
enable SriLankan Airlines to calculate wet
SriLankan Airlines will
hold the right to nominate up to two
Directors including the Managing
Director/CEO to the Board of Mihin Lanka.
This condition is to ensure payments to
SriLankan are protected.
The wet lease charge is
for one year and will include aircraft lease
rental as well as crew, maintenance, and
Flight routes and
schedules of Mihin Lanka and SriLankan are
to be coordinated to ensure that no
cannibalization of traffic occurs.
Mihin Lanka will remain
as a separate company as a merger into
SriLankan Airlines cannot be considered yet,
due to opposition from shareholders.
Emirates Airlines, which
continues to hold a 43.6%, share in UL and
thus have two Directors on the Board have
not been consulted.
The two Directors, Tim
Clark and Gary Chapman have not attended a
single Board meeting at SriLankan since
Emirates decided not to renew its
Shareholder’s Agreement last March.
Manoj Gunawardena Chief
Executive Officer for SriLankan was overseas
when contacted by The Sunday Leader.
Gunawardena confirmed that the deal was
indeed sealed on Wednesday, February 18. He
said SriLankan would lease the aircraft to
Mihin at regular commercial rates.
calls on Govt. and LTTE to avoid bloodbath
By Arthur Wamanan
UN Under Secretary General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Coordinator Sir John Holmes has called upon
both the government and the LTTE to avoid
bloodbath as clashes in the north intensify.
Holmes made this call at a press briefing
yesterday at the Government Information
Holmes called upon both
parties to ensure the safety of the
civilians in the LTTE controlled areas and
that there is a significant number of
civilian casualties reported.
He called upon both
parties to do ‘everything possible’ to avoid
civilian casualties during the ongoing
"I fear that there are a
significant number of civilians killed or
injured. It is hard to say who is
responsible for these," Holmes said.
Human Rights and Disaster
Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who
was also at the press briefing stated that
the government had assured Holmes that
civilian lives will not be compromised
during the military operations carried out
in the Wanni.
While welcoming the
government’s efforts to send essential goods
to LTTE controlled areas by sea, Holmes said
the government should step up arrangements
for more supplies to be transported to the
He also said the state
should take steps to improve the screening
techniques used at the crossover points in
order to increase confidence of the people
who flee the LTTE areas.
said the ICRC and the UN monitors were
already present in the Omanthai crossover
point, monitoring the screening processes.
Holmes also noted that
there was a certain amount of fear among the
people in IDP camps and added that the
government should take immediate measures to
provide them with temporary ID cards. Holmes
also said the government should also take
immediate steps to unite the IDPs with their
Samarasinghe said that
there were practical problems in registering
persons, as there were LTTE cadres who had
infiltrated into IDP camps.
"There are 250 persons
who had identified themselves as LTTE
cadres. They are now at rehabilitation
centres and are being carefully watched.
There may be some others as well,"
Holmes met with President
Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday and discussed
the current issues in the country. Rajapakse
had also assured that the civilian lives
will be protected during military
The UN also granted US$
10 million for the emergency needs of the
population. The UN had earlier said that it
needed US$ 155 million to carry out 103
projects in the north and east for this
Unions see good and bad
in proposed Electricity Draft Bill
By Nirmala Kannangara
The proposed new Sri
Lanka Electricity Draft Bill will enhance
the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) services
if implemented properly, the Ceylon
Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU)
told The Sunday Leader.
According to the CEBEU
sources the proposed draft bill would bring
benefits to the board and the consumers if
it is implemented without government
interference and added that it was a better
bill when compared to the 2002 draft bill
the then UNP regime wanted to introduce.
"Under the new proposed
Bill regulatory powers would be given to an
Independent Regulator where decisions to
benefit the CEB and improve its services
could be taken," added the sources.
However the sources
further said that in the event the
government interferes with the regulatory
work it could prove disastrous, as the new
Electricity Draft Bill would bring severe
repercussions in the future. When asked
whether the CEB would be privatised under
the new Act, the sources said the board
would not be privatised but would be
Meanwhile JVP affiliated
Lanka Viduli Sevaka Sangamaya (LVSS) told
The Sunday Leader that the CEB
would be privatised if the proposed bill is
"There is no surety that
the CEB would not be privatised. According
to the proposals regulatory powers to uplift
the CEB services would be vested with an
independent regulator. How could one say
that the government would appoint an
independent regulator where the government
would not interfere with their work? The
government would never appoint an
independent person as the CEB regulator, as
this could bring bad consequences in the
future," Convener LVSS Ranjan Jayalal said.
According to Jayalal in
the event the draft bill is presented in
parliament strong trade union action would
be taken by the CEB employees until it is
Power and Energy Ministry
Secretary was not available for comment.
aircraft found in Puthukudiyiruppu
The Defence Ministry
yesterday said that troops had recovered two
partially burnt LTTE aircraft in
Puthukudiyiruppu. The Ministry said the two
aircraft were under construction.
"According to ground
sources, one craft found was a light fixed
wing craft while the other was an unmanned
aircraft (UAV)," the Ministry said.
"These craft were found
North of Puthukudiyiruppu, where troops are
now consolidating in light of a decisive
final thrust into the remaining LTTE
garrison town. Several other materials were
strewn in the vicinity but were burnt beyond
It said that the aircraft
construction site was well fortified.
"According to ground
sources, troops also uncovered several arms
and stocks of ammunition, claymore bombs and
anti-personnel mines from the site."
Meanwhile, the Ministry
added that the LTTE suffered severe damages
due to clashes in Puthukudiyiruppu last
week. The Ministry said 17 LTTE cadres had
been killed due to heavy fighting in the
area last Friday. "Troops of the 58 Division
operating in North and West of
Puthukudiyiruppu have engaged decisive blows
to remaining LTTE resistances in the area,
reportedly killing 17 terrorists and
injuring 10 others on Friday."
The military also
recovered 10 bodies and several weapons
including seven T-56 assault riffles, one
multi-purpose machine gun and four I-com
Meanwhile, two civilians
were killed and several others injured due
to LTTE attacks in Ampara yesterday.
The Media Centre for
National Security (MCNS) said that the LTTE
had attacked a village in Parametiyagama.
60% voter turnout at
More than 60% had cast
their vote during the repolling held at the
Nayakkachchenai polling booth in the
Puttalam District yesterday, monitors said.
The Campaign for Free and
Fair election (CAFFE) spokesperson Keerthi
Tennekoon said that there were no serious
incidents yesterday and the security was
beefed up at the polling stations.
However, Centre for
Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said
there were a few incidents where party
members had provided transport to voters.
Tennekoon added that the
candidates belonging to both parties had
tried their maximum to win the elections. He
said that the parties had bribed the voters,
which was against the election laws.
The polling in
Nayakkachchenai was annulled due to
complaints on irregularities. The final
results of the Puttalam District and the
North Western Province will be released
Polling for the Central
and North Western Provinces were held on
Three consignments of
goods sent to Mullaithivu
By Arthur Wamanan and Raisa Wickrematunge
Another consignment of
goods containing food and medicine was sent
to Puthumathalan in Mullaithivu on Friday
(20). The ICRC facilitated the
This was the third
consignment sent to the region in three
days. The transportation of the three
consignments were assisted by the ICRC.
The first consignment
containing 30 tonnes of goods provided by
the government was sent on Wednesday (18)
while the second was sent the following day.
The second consignment containing 10 tonnes
of flour was provided by the WFP.
Spokesperson Sarasi Wijeratne told The
Sunday Leader that the ferry, which
transported the second consignment, reached
Trincomalee Friday night with patients and
accompanying relatives from Puthumathalan.
The ferry left Puthumathalan last Friday.
The ferry brought 398 patients and
accompanying relatives during its fourth sea
evacuation operation last Friday.
The ICRC began the sea
evacuation of patients on February 10 and
has carried out four operations till now.
Wijeratne said that 1,583
patients and accompanying family members had
been evacuated from Puthumathalan by sea so
Meanwhile, Human Rights
and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda
Samarasinghe yesterday said that around
36,000 civilians had so far crossed over to
Government held areas. The government said
that 35,000 persons had crossed over the
Samarasinghe said the
reduction in the number of persons arriving
to Government areas was due to the people
moving to the newly declared safe zone on
the eastern coast. He also said the LTTE was
still holding civilians as human shields.
Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara earlier said
Army doctors had provided medical care to
the people, following which hospitals in
Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna assisted in
tending to the injured or sick civilians. He
continued that the Government and government
agencies were working together to provide
foodstuff for the people in need.
Meanwhile, Human Rights
Watch (HRW) last week said that civilian
casualties has skyrocketed during the past
month and called upon the government and the
LTTE to ensure safety of civilians in the
The HRW in its report,
War On The Displaced: Sri Lankan Army And
Ltte Abuses Against Civilians In The Wanni
released last Thursday called upon the
government to stop indiscriminate attacks on
civilians and urged the Tigers to release
all civilians in areas under their control.
"Since early January
2009, civilian casualties have skyrocketed
in the fighting between the Sri Lankan armed
forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)," the report said.
"This ‘war’ against
civilians must stop," HRW legal and policy
director, James Ross said. "Sri Lankan
forces are shelling hospitals and so-called
safe zones and slaughtering the civilians
The HRW held the military
and the LTTE responsible for the ‘dramatic’
increase in civilian casualties during the
past month and said, "approximately 2,000
killed and another 5,000 wounded, according
to independent monitors on the ground."
"With each battlefield
defeat, the Tamil Tigers appear to be
treating Tamil civilians with increased
brutality," said Ross. "They’ve shot at
those trying to flee and stepped up forced
recruitment and forced labour."
The 45-page report by HRW
was based on a two-week fact-finding mission
to northern Sri Lanka in February. "The
government has prohibited journalists and
human rights monitors from going to the
battle zone in the Wanni, making access to
The organisation also
alleged that the government sanctioned
unlawful attacks on civilians stating that
the civilians trapped in the war zone "can
be presumed to be siding with the LTTE and
treated as combatants." It alleged that the
military had carried out indiscriminate
attacks in civilian areas including on safe
zones declared by the government.
"The plight of the
region’s civilians has been made worse by
the government’s decision in September 2008
to order most humanitarian agencies out of
the Wanni. Government efforts to bring in
food, medical supplies, and other relief —
with a minimal role for the United Nations —
have been insufficient."
Lanka ex-PM: Army faces
By Sanjay Basak
New Delhi: The
three-decade-long Sri Lankan conflict has
not only bled the country’s economy but also
failed to heal the divisions among its
communities, former Prime Minister and
Leader of the Opposition Ranil
Wickremesinghe, now visiting New Delhi, said
in an interview to this newspaper.
Colombo’s triumph in
"conventional warfare" over the Tigers has,
however, caused its armed forces heavy
casualties. When asked about casualties in
the Army, a closely-guarded secret in that
country, Mr. Wickremesinghe said: "It is
very high... The government does not want to
announce it (death toll and injuries)
thinking that this will demoralise the Army,
but I don’t think so... The armed forces
know what the casualties are."
It is learnt that "The
bodybags are on the rise. The government
does not want to reveal the figures... but I
think it is an indication of the enormous
sacrifices being made by soldiers in this
He went on to add that
the "sacrifices made by the armed forces
should come out into the open... only then
will people realise their contribution," and
added: "This information is not coming out
as the government is interested only in
safeguarding its own interest."
The former Prime Minister
said despite the military establishing its
superiority in conventional warfare, its
battle with the LTTE in the Mullaittivu
jungles could drag on for long. The LTTE, he
added, had "opted out of conventional
warfare, realising that they cannot win".
Mr. Wickremesinghe said
the Tigers had retreated deep into the
Mullaittivu jungles and felt it could
continue with its guerrilla campaign "as
long as it has the support of the local
population". He added: "The government has
to take a political decision to win over the
people, and eliminate the LTTE’s support
He, however, maintained
that the ongoing military offensive to
consolidate government control over one
territory "is not opposed by us. We stand
for it." He said that in the 2005
presidential elections, the United National
Party (UNP) had put forward a proposal that
a "political solution was necessary to end
the conflict". He recalled, "But the LTTE
asked the Tamils not to vote in the
elections and therefore the solution we put
on the table was rejected and we lost."
Virtually indicating that the LTTE has
brought the war on itself, Mr.
Wickremesinghe said: "Thereafter, dealing
with the LTTE was the responsibility of the
Meanwhile, despite the
sustained offensive, LTTE chief Velupillai
Prabhakaran is alive and hiding in the
dense, impregnable Mullaittivu jungles. "Prabhakaran
is alive and hiding in the Mullaittivu
jungles. Reports and information indicate
that he is not leaving the country," the
former PM revealed. He also maintained that
most of the LTTE equipment has not been
"Some military officers
feel that they are concealed and there could
be some difficulty to locate them, though
they have found a submarine and other light
arms." He said the Army was "considering how
it could fight inside the Mullaittivu
jungles", adding, "There is, however, always
an element of luck."
He admitted that there
"was some kind of support to the LTTE by the
people and till the government took any
positive step to usher in confidence,
people, albeit, "reluctantly, will provide
support to the LTTE".
Asked whether a dead
Prabhakaran could be a major cause of
concern for the country, he replied: "If the
social and economic issues are not settled,
even if the whole of the LTTE disappears,
there is room for another organisation to
spring up." He pointed out that a "lot of
support to the LTTE is coming from outside
and that kind of infrastructure is still
available". He described Prabhakaran as a
"child of a problem and as long as the
problem stays, there will be someone else to
take up the issue".
As the battle rages with
censored information, Mr. Wickremesinghe
maintained that the "priority was to
evacuate the 200,000 civilians trapped in
the LTTE-controlled area of the battle
zone". He said this was a "humanitarian
issue". Though he felt that with the "kind
of military operation going on, this might
sound difficult, but is not impossible".
He asserted that Sri
Lanka has to rescue the trapped civilians to
"fulfil obligations under international
humanitarian law". He claimed that the LTTE
has refused to allow people to cross over to
the government-controlled areas and was
being condemned for that. "But we cannot be
judged by similar criteria. If the
government does not take any step, it could
lead to another major crisis," he said.
CPA denies LTTE link story
The Centre for Policy
Alternatives (CPA) last week denied reports
by a Sinhala newspaper that its publications
were being printed in an LTTE printing
On February 20,
Dinamina newspaper carried an article,
stating that the security forces had found a
large number of Sama Vimarshi
magazines at the Sugandarampuram printing
press in the Wanni. The article had said
that they suspected that this magazine has
been printed in a LTTE printing press till
Executive Director, CPA,
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said that
Sama Vimarshi, the Sinhala version of
the tri lingual publication Peace Monitor
was printed in Colombo and not in
presses owned by the LTTE.
He said that the CPA was
considering legal action against the
Dinamina newspaper for its defamatory
and baseless accusations.
article also made reference to "powerful
links" between non-governmental
organisations and media associations with
the LTTE. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting
Corporation Chairman, Hudson Samarasinghe,
made specific references to these charges
made by Dinamina on the show Rata
Yana Atha on City FM," Dr. Saravanamuttu
said in a statement.
"The magazine in question
was a special human rights issue published
in November 2007. In addition to the authors
named in the Dinamina news paper,
this issue also carried a wide cross section
of articles including the speech made by
President Mahinda Rajapakse at the 62nd
Anniversary of the United Nations at New
York, as well as statements by Prime
Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake,
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe,
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, and a tribute
to the late Kethesh Loganathan Deputy
Secretary General of the Secretariat for
Coordinating the Peace Process, who
previously worked as Director at CPA."
He also alleged that there was no effort
made by the Dinamina to contact CPA
and verify the story.