THT 10 YEARS AGO: NA should not be politicised: PM

Kathmandu, January 8, 2008

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today said that adjustment of Maoist combatants doesn’t necessarily mean integrating them in the Nepali Army (NA).

“I think, they can be adjusted in other sectors like industrial security group,” Koirala told a delegation of journalists led by the Reporters’ Club. Upholding Chief of the Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal’s recent statement on integration of armies, the Prime Minister said that NA should not be politicised.

“The NA should operate and is operating as per the laws to maintain security in the country,” the PM added. Koirala said that General Katawal’s statement before leaving for China this week could not be misinterpreted. Koirala also said that the government was holding talks with India at the diplomatic level to resolve the Susta and Kalapani issues. “The government has taken the land dispute over Susta and Kalapani seriously,” he said. “It should be resolved through quiet diplomacy as India is our good neighbour. Making a hue and cry unnecessarily doesn’t help address but only worsens the problem,” Club Chairman Rishi Dhamala quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Stating that the Constituent Assembly (CA) would address all the existing problems of the country, Koirala noted that the cabinet meet to be held either on January 11 or 12 would fix the date for the polls.

Roadside bomb kills Sri Lankan minister

Colombo, January 8, 2008

A Sri Lankan government minister was killed today in a powerful roadside bomb attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels near the island’s capital and international airport, officials said.

DM Dassanayake, the 51- year-old minister for nation building, suffered severe head injuries and died while undergoing surgery, said doctor Lalini Gunasekera at the Ragama hospital here. Officials said one other person died and nine were wounded in the attack, the second such bombing in the Colombo area since the government abandoned a ceasefire with the ethnic Tamil rebels last week.

Police said a fragmentation mine — a device frequently used by the Tamil Tigers — was detonated as the minister’s convoy passed the town of Ja-Ela, between Colombo and the international airport. “The minister was on his way to parliament when his white Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle was hit by a Claymore, his vehicle has been badly damaged,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. Dassanayake was notorious for his alleged underworld links and once attended parliament in handcuffs, having been allowed out of a remand prison to take part in a key debate.

It was not immediately clear if the minister was specifically targeted, or if the attackers may have tried to get a more senior politician using the same highway to travel to the capital, an official involved in the probe said.