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Express train kills jumbos in Anuradhapura
Thursday, 23 December 2004 - 10:43 SL Time
The `Raja Rata Rajina` express train collided with a herd of wild elephants near Galgamuwa in Anuradhapura in the early hours of Thursday morning, killing one and critically injuring two of the animals.

The train`s engine derailed in the accident, but nobody aboard the train was hurt. The train was carrying about 500 passengers at the time of the accident.

Eye witness say that at least twenty elephants were on the rail track at the time of the accident .

Wild life veterinarian, Dr. Chandana Jaysinghe said that elephants sustained injuries in the legs and the train`s impact broke their spines. He said that the likelihood of survival of the injured animals are very low. `Lankadepa` Correspondent Athula Bandara reporting from the scene says that within this year 65 elephants have been killed within the north western wild life zone.

Three weeks ago, another elephant had lost its life in another such accident at the same location.

The Director of wild life (North West), Manjula Amararatne, said that the train drivers were cautioned thereafter to drive carefully in that area.
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Foreign powers must not interfere says JVP
Thursday, 23 December 2004 - 9:16 P SL Time

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna charged Wednesday that the international community was trying to make the Sri Lankan government to dance according to their tunes.

The JVP propaganda secretary and the Patriotic National Movement co-chairman Wimal Weerawansa said this while addressing the Colombo district convention of the PNM held at the New Town Hall on Tuesday.

He charged that certain foreign powers went beyond their limits by getting involved in the internal affairs of our country and said people should not allow these foreign powers to invade the country.

Mr. Weerawansa said certain foreign powers had no idea what their limits were and tried to interfere in each and every matter concerning the country.
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Tamil Tiger rebels reject Sri Lanka`s offer to revive peace talks
Thursday, 23 December 2004 - 9:16 P SL Time
Tiger rebels have rejected Government`s new proposal to revive peace negotiations despite international pressure to save the Norwegian-backed initiative, Tamil sources said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) told Tamil journalists late Wednesday that they did not accept the latest offer made through peace broker Norway, the sources said.

`The Tigers do not see any real substance in the proposals and consider it an attempt to deflect international public opinion that is building against the government,` a source close to the Tigers said.

He said the government was willing to consider `interim arrangements` to administer the island`s troubled northeast region, but there was no specific mention of the LTTE`s proposal for self-rule.

the government proposal by Norway`s special envoy Erik Solheim during a meeting in London Monday.

Solheim last week held talks with both the president and Tiger leaders on attempts to resume peace negotiations which have been suspended since April last year.
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Recent News Discussions
Sri Lanka announces US$20,000 reward for clues in Indian concert attack (2)

Malnutrition rife in Tiger territory (1)

CBK promises to confirm graduates in service soon (2)

Mahanayakes for release of SB (3)

Bogollagama challenges expulsion from UNP (1)

Rights group warns of Tamil Tiger threats in Toronto (1)

Canada`s Tamils must rethink LTTE support (2)

LTTE naval chief slams Indo-Lanka naval exercise (1)

Millions squandered by ministers, deputies: JVP (1)

SB blames plea-bargain for woes (1)

Arsonists set fire to Roman Catholic Church in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka (2)


More Headline News

Sri Lanka announces US$20,000 reward for clues in Indian concert attack
Thursday, 23 December 2004 - 5:56 A SL Time
Government is offering a US$20,000 reward for clues leading to arrests in a deadly grenade attack at a controversial concert by Bollywood performers, police said Wednesday.

`We are keen to arrest the people who carried out this attack, this is the reason why the award was announced,` said Deputy Inspector General of Police Sirisena Herath.

The US$20,000 reward for information is an unprecedented sum in Sri Lanka.
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US ambassador replies to JVP
Thursday, 23 December 2004 - 1:32 A SL Time
The recent statement issued by the co-chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference was directed at the comments and actions taken by the JVP and others criticizing the role of Norway and the peace process in general. It did not address the issue of the LTTE, US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Jeffrey Lunstead said in a reply to the JVP'General Secretary's December 16 letter.

Ambassador said that `the United States has made two points repeatedly: (1) LTTE behavior, such as assassinations of political opponents, conscription of children, etc., is unacceptable and must change. (2) The LTTE must show flexibility and realism if the peace negotiations are to resume and succeed.`
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Malnutrition rife in Tiger territory
Thursday, 23 December 2004 - 1:32 A SL Time
Malnutrition is spreading rapidly in areas under LTTE control, with nearly one in five children suffering stunted growth, according to the United Nations World Food Programme, states an AFP report.

The AFP report said: `The World Food Program said a recent survey in the LTTE-stronghold of Wanni found that a lack of clean water, irregular supply of food and an environment causing mental stress contributed to the nutrition problem.

`While malnutrition remains an island-wide problem, the results of the survey indicate that malnutrition rates in the Wanni are about eight percent higher than the national average,` the WFP said in a statement.

It did not suggest remedial action, but said one in four children between the ages of one and two years were `wasted`, or had low weight for their age. Boys were more affected than girls.
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Politics

Lanka wants `time frame` for interim administration in Tamil areas
Wednesday, 22 December 2004 - 9:39 SL Time
The Sri Lankan government is ready to hold talks with the LTTE on setting up an Interim Administration for the Tamil-speaking North Eastern Province, but it wants the LTTE to discuss a `time frame` for the interim arrangement.

The LTTE`s proposal for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA), submitted on October 31, 2003, does not have a time frame for its existence.

Observers say that this might well have been the message handed over to the LTTE`s chief negotiator Anton Balasingham by the Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim at London recently.
According to informed sources, the Sri Lankan government is of the view that no interim arrangement can be allowed to last indefinitely.
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Mahanayakes for release of SB
Wednesday, 22 December 2004 - 7:41 SL Time
Addressing the thousands of supporters gathered to Colombo after a march from Hanguranketha, parliamentarian Rajitha Senarathne expected the petition to carry 10,000 signatures.

Tuesday`s protest rally was organised by the UNP to demand the release of Dissanayake who was jailed for two years for contempt of court. Addressing the gathering, leader of the opposition Ranil Wickramasinghe said their struggle not only aimed for release of Dissanayake. `This struggle should not end with the release of SB,` Wickramasinghe said. It is for the freedom of the country, he said.

Dissanayake`s wife Tamara recalled that her husband was instrumental in bringing the Peoples' Alliance (PA) into power in 1994. `I think nobody else in PA or SLFP endeavoured as SB to sit Chandrika on the presidential throne,` she said.
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CBK promises to confirm graduates in service soon
Wednesday, 22 December 2004 - 3:57 SL Time
Graduates who were selected for training in the public service will be given permanent appointments in January 2005, President Chandrika Kumaratunga said yesterday (21).

She said the graduates would be given further training in the public service as the government had started a human resource development scheme to train public servants annually.
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Security

Canada`s Tamils must rethink LTTE support
Tuesday, 21 December 2004 - 8:51 PM SL Time
Not long afterwards, in August, 2002, soldiers from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) abducted Selvamani while she was walking to class. They took her to a military training camp where she learned to use weapons, including landmines and bombs. During training, when she became too weary to continue and asked to rest, the rebels beat her.

Canadian Tamils don`t have to worry that their children will one day vanish on the way home from school and end up in a military training camp. But the Tamil community in Canada bears some responsibility for the fate of children like Selvamani. Many of Canada`s 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils provide financial and political support for the LTTE, enabling the group to continue its recruitment and use of child soldiers.
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Sri Lanka in new bid to restart peace talks
Tuesday, 21 December 2004 - 8:51 PM SL Time
The government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga has made the offer through peace broker Norway to try to end the 20-month impasse in negotiations, the Tamil-language Sudar Oli newspaper said.

It said Norway`s special envoy Erik Solheim conveyed Colombo`s new proposal to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, during a meeting in London Monday. London-based Balasingham declined to give details but told the newspaper that Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was expected to respond shortly to the latest offer.
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Tapes reveal LTTE training by Norway
Sunday, 19 December 2004 - 8:39 PM SL Time
Voice cuts from tapped telephone conversations purportedly between Norwegian officials and the LTTE were played, when panellists at the `Colombo conference` organised by the WAPS group of Sri Lankan Expatriates, and the `Sandsadaya`` forum, made the potentially explosive revelations about ``Norwegian complicity with the LTTE in subverting the Sri Lankan state``, at the BMICH yesterday. Very clear footage was also shown of Norwegian armed personnel training LTTE cadres in the Rena Norwegian Army camp. Though the Norwegians had gone on record as saying that the training was for `peaceful purposes` the video footage showed LTTE personnel being trained in armed vehicle operations and underwater manoeuvres -- ``anything but training for peaceful purposes,`` averred Mr. Rovik in his paper.
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Business / Economy News

War drums dampen Sri Lanka`s tourism cheer
Tuesday, 21 December 2004 - 5:37 AM SL Time
Sri Lankas tourism industry is set to wrap up its best year ever thanks to a truce between troops and Tiger rebels, but fears of a return to war have made the flourishing sector jittery once again.

The number of foreign holiday makers visiting this teardrop-shaped island off India`s southern coast crossed half-a-million by the end of November, compared to the same figure for the whole of last year. Hotels, which had been reeling under the effects of two decades of intense guerrilla war, had come out of the woods after the truce in February 2002. Room rates have sky-rocketed, according to industry officials.

Five-star rooms which could not sell for even eight dollars 15 years ago are now being grabbed at over $100 and hotels are posting `House Full` signs. However, a bombing at a Bollywood concert here last week, killing two people and wounding 19, jolted the industry and reminded them of the 'bad old days' when deluxe rooms were thrown in free to attract diners to restaurants. The Tourist Hotels` Association said they regretted the blast at Indian star`s concert. 'We are sorry that this incident took place, but we are more worried about the peace process, association spokesman Hiran Cooray said, If the peace process collapses, we will be in very, very serious trouble.
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World Bank aid for e-Sri Lanka
Saturday, 18 December 2004 - 12:47 SL Time
The World Bank (WB) has approved a US$ 53 million loan for the e-Sri Lanka development project. The agreement was signed by the World Bank Country Manager Peter Harrold and Secretary to the Treasury, Dr. P. B. Jayasundera.

World Bank`s e-Sri Lanka Team leader and Senior Advisor on e-Development, Dr. Nagy Hanna said that `e-Sri Lanka aspires to the ideal of making Sri Lanka the most connected government to its people, and raising the quality of life of all its citizens with access to better public services, learning opportunities,and information.`

`The program aims at informing, connecting and enabling isolated communities through ICT, and empowering farmers, students and small entrepreneurs to realise a better future`, Dr. Hanna said.
CEO, ICTA, Manju Haththotuwa said that the agency will launch the project throughout the country and added that ICTA wants to be a role model for government Haththotuwa commended the WB assistance towards the e-Sri Lanka project.
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The Sri Lankan public sector is one of the biggest in the region
Friday, 17 December 2004 - 10:02 AM SL Time
Sri Lanka has one of the largest bureaucracies in the Asian region, said Shankar Acharya an Indian economist and an external consultant to the World Bank on Thursday.
Acharya was speaking at the launch of a new country report by the World Bank.

Sri Lanka maintains 3.9 civil servants to every 100 people compared to 1.2 civil servants in India 1.5 in Pakistan and 0.6 in Bangladesh. Sri Lanka's public service is big even compared to East Asian Countries.

China maintains 2.8 government servants for every 100 people while it is 2.1 for Indonesia, 2.2 for Korea and 4.5 for Malaysia. The Asian regional average is 2.6 public servants per every 100 people.
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