Lanka turns to Norway for brokering peace

Colombo, August 16:

A Norwegian peace-broker met Sri Lankan leaders, officials said today, amid concerns that the assassination of the country’s foreign minister could further damage Sri Lanka’s already faltering peace process. Norway’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Peterson met with President Chandrika Kumaratunga late yesterday to assess what impact the recent killing of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar - blamed on Tamil rebels - might have on the prospect of resumed peace talks, said Jayantha Dhanapala, from the government’s Peace Secretariat.

Peterson, one of the architects of the suspended peace deal, also met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse today. “The prime minister told the Norwegian foreign minister that there should be more international efforts to put pressure on the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam),” to give up violence, prime minister’s Secretary, Lalith Weerathunga said. Rajapakse also assured Petersen that there will be no backlash. “The Sri Lankan nation today is very resilient and there will never be a backlash,” Weerathunga quoted Rajapakse as saying. By late yesterday, 51 suspects had been arrested in and around Colombo in connection with the Kadirgamar’s assassination, said military spokesman Brig Daya Ratnayake. Thirty-five of them have been released on bail, eight are in police cells awaiting further investigation and police are still questioning the remaining eight, Ratnayake said. Kumaratunga imposed a state of emergency on Saturday and today a heavy police and troop presence remained in the capital.

Sniper shoots dead soldier

Colombo: Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels fired on two army posts in northern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, killing one soldier. A rebel sniper fatally shot Lance Cpl H K A Hendeniya while he was on duty at a post in Muttur, said Rohan Abeywardene, the regional police chief. Barely 15 minutes later, at least four rebel assailants opened fire on a separate army guard post in the same area, but no one was injured in that attack, Abeywardene said. —AP