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July 28, 2017 [GMT]
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Somali pirates release oil tanker and crew, officials say
[Friday 2017-03-17 17:00]

Somali pirates who seized a Comoros-flagged oil tanker earlier this week after five years without a major hijacking in the region have released the ship and its crew without conditions, officials said late Thursday. Security official Ahmed Mohamed told The Associated Press the pirates disembarked the ship, which was heading to Bossaso port, the region's commercial hub, with its eight Sri Lankan crew members aboard.

Somali pirates who seized a Comoros-flagged oil tanker earlier this week after five years without a major hijacking in the region have released the ship and its crew without conditions, officials said late Thursday. Security official Ahmed Mohamed told The Associated Press the pirates disembarked the ship, which was heading to Bossaso port, the region's commercial hub, with its eight Sri Lankan crew members aboard.

  

Mohamed said the release occurred after negotiations by local elders and officials with the pirates, who seized the tanker on Monday. The pirates were not arrested but instead were given passage to leave once they disembarked, he said. Naval forces from the semiautonomous state of Puntland and the pirates had clashed earlier Thursday after the pirates opened fire. The hijacking of the Comoros-flagged tanker Aris 13 was the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel off Somalia since 2012. International anti-piracy patrols on the crucial trade route had calmed such attacks, which once numbered in the hundreds.

Abdirizak Mohamed Ahmed, the director of Puntand's anti-piracy agency, confirmed the release of the ship Thursday night and said naval forces had boarded it to escort it to port. The European Union anti-piracy operation in the region had said the pirates had been holding the crew captive and demanding a ransom. The ship had been anchored off Somalia's northern coast, known to be used by weapons smugglers and the extremist group al-Shabab. Ahmed said the Puntland naval forces had been dispatched to the area not to free the ship by force but to cut off any supplies to the pirates.

Families of the crew members had tearfully pleaded for the men to be released unharmed. Somali pirates usually hijack ships and crew for ransom. They don't normally kill hostages unless they come under attack. The ship had been carrying fuel from Djibouti to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Monday when it was approached by men in two skiffs and the tanker issued a call for help. The pirates told authorities that the only reason they seized the ship was in protest of the illegal fishing in the area that has threatened livelihoods, not for ransom, Mohamed said.

Coastal Somalis, including pirates who quit as international patrols increased and became fisherman, have complained of growing harassment by illegal fishermen and attacks by large foreign trawlers. They have blamed Yemeni, Chinese, Indian, Iranian and Djibouti-flagged fishing boats and trawlers, and some have threatened to return to a life of piracy to make money. Meanwhile, experts on piracy say some in the region have let down their guard as the number of hijackings decreased in recent years. In December, NATO ended its anti-piracy mission off Somalia's waters.

  
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LTTE remains a terrorist organisation: EU
[Thursday 2017-07-27 18:00]

Despite the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling which annulled measures against the LTTE, the European Union today said the terror organisation remains listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU. Issuing a statement, it said the ECJ judgment was a legal ruling on the procedure used for listing the LTTE.



Police officer assaulted in Jaffna
[Thursday 2017-07-27 18:00]

A Sub Inspector attached to the Jaffna Police Station was assaulted by a group of individuals last night. Nelliadi Police said that the officer was traveling on his motorcycle when the men had given chase him on motorcycles and blocked him on the Kodikamam Peduruthuduwa road. The officer has been admitted to Jaffna Kawechcheri hospital. According to hospital sources, his condition is not critical. Nelliadi Police is conducting further investigations.



President rejects Ravi K’s proposals
[Thursday 2017-07-27 18:00]

Three Cabinet proposals put forward by Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday were rejected by President Maithripala Sirisena. One paper sought permission to acquire Visumpaya (Acland House) Union Place, Colombo as his official residence, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said. Visumpaya has been used as an official residence for Government Ministers and a residence for visiting heads of states.



Mullaithivu land to be handed over to its rightful owners
[Thursday 2017-07-27 18:00]

Discussions were underway to handover the land where the Mullaithivu Army camp is located to its rightful owners within the next month, Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan today said. The minister said 70 acres of land where the camp is located will be given to the previous settlers while the ministry bears the camp’s relocation cost of Rs. 140 million.



Stalin welcomes EU decision to remove LTTE from terror list
[Thursday 2017-07-27 18:00]

DMK working president M K Stalin has welcomed the decision of the European Union to remove LTTE from the list of terror organisations. "The Government of Sri Lanka, which has systematically interfered and undermined investigations about the human rights abuses orchestrated by the Sri Lankan Army on Eelam Tamils, should understand the intent of EU's highest court's act of lifting the ban on LTTE and work towards ensuring meaningful share of power to Eelam Tamils, equal rights on a par with Sinhala majority and create an ecosystem for Tamils to rebuild and live their life with self-respect," Stalin said in the statement.



Sri Lanka will work closely with new Indian President’
[Thursday 2017-07-27 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena, congratulating newly elected Indian President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his willingness to work closely with his Indian counterpart to further develop and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. Sending a congratulatory message to President Kovind, President Sirisena stated that the vision and maturity of the new President will be beneficial in achieving harmony and unity that will encompass all communities in India.



EU court removes freeze on LTTE funds, orders delisting
[Wednesday 2017-07-26 18:00]

The European Union’s top court today removed the freeze on LTTE funds in EU countries and also ordered that the LTTE be removed from the EU’s terrorism list. The court said the EU had not produced any evidence to show that there was a risk of the Tamil Tigers carrying out attacks after its military defeat in 2009, the Reuters news agency reported. “The Court of Justice therefore confirms the annulment of the continued freezing of the LTTE’s funds,” it said.



Indo-Lanka accord hailed as helping defeat Prabakaran
[Wednesday 2017-07-26 18:00]

The 1987 agreement between India and Sri Lanka helped defeat the LTTE led by Vellupillai Prabakaran, Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake said. Dissanayake said that when the Indo-Lanka accord was signed at the time his father, Gamini Dissanayake, was a Minister in the United National Party (UNP) Government, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party opposed it. He says if the agreement was not signed India would not have supported Sri Lanka to defeat Vellupillai Prabakaran.



Sampanthan’s adjournment motion touches secret detention camps denied by govt
[Wednesday 2017-07-26 18:00]

Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan yesterday moving an adjournment motion ‘relating to a matter of urgent public importance’ said the issue of missing persons particularly in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country had been a serious matter for some time and those families had conducted peaceful demonstrations in all districts there to impress on the government the urgent need to bring it to a satisfactory closure. Therefore they have been assured the following steps would be taken:



Main suspect of Nallur shooting remanded till 8 August
[Wednesday 2017-07-26 18:00]

A Sri Lankan court Tuesday remanded the main suspect in the shooting incident in Nallur, Jaffna of which a police officer was killed. Jaffna Magistrate ordered to remand the 39 year old Selvarasa Jayandan until the 8th of August when he was produced in court after he surrendered to the police this morning and subsequently arrested. The shooting resulted in the death of police sergeant Sarath Premachandra and severely injured another police officer in the security detail of the Jaffna Magistrate M. Illancheliyan, who escaped the shooting unscathed.



Brain dead man’s leg attached to another
[Wednesday 2017-07-26 18:00]

For the first time in Sri Lankan medical history, a leg from a brain dead individual, has been attached to another at the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital. The operation took place on Monday (24). At present less than 10 such operations have been done around the world. A year ago, a 32-year-old man had to have his leg amputated just above his knee as a result of an accident.



Army takes over operations of petroleum refineries
[Wednesday 2017-07-26 18:00]

Control of fuel distribution from the Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela refineries was taken over by the Army at midnight in order to restore fuel supply in the country, Army Spokesman Roshan Seneviratne said. "The distribution of fuel will be restored within hours and discussions are underway to gain technical support from the management and the workers who did not support the trade union action,” Brigadier Seneviratne told Daily Mirror.



UK legislator to push for pressure on Sri Lanka on rights issue
[Tuesday 2017-07-25 18:00]

A British legislator has said he will continue to push for pressure on Sri Lanka on the human rights issue. Newly elected as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG), Paul Scully has said human rights concerns remain in Sri Lanka and he pledged to continue to raise the issue internationally. Scully said he would support the interests of the Tamil community in the UK while the APPG will continue to raise the issue in the UK Parliament, in Brussels and Geneva aiming to keep this in the mind of the Government, the EU and the United Nations.



Main suspect in Nallur shooting surrenders
[Tuesday 2017-07-25 18:00]

The main suspect in the shooting at Nallur in Jaffna on Saturday, where Jaffna High Court Judge M. Ilancheliyan and his security detail were shot at killing a police sergeant, surrendered to police short while ago. Police spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said 39-year-old Selvarasa Jayandan was arrested after he surrendered to the Jaffna Police Station this morning.



Tense situ at Karadiyanaru, 1 dead, 6 STF members hospitalised
[Tuesday 2017-07-25 18:00]

Six Special Task Force (STF) officers were hospitalized and a 17 year old youth drowned when a tense situation erupted during a raid conducted in Karadiyanaru, Batticaloa last evening. Police said the STF personnel from the Maha Oya camp had raided an illegal sand mining operation at the Mundeniyaru lagoon following a tip off.



Cabinet approves H’tota Port deal
[Tuesday 2017-07-25 18:00]

The Cabinet today approved the proposal to lease out the Hambantota Port to China Merchants Company, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said. Earlier, it was reported that two separate companies would be formed to deal with administrative and commercial operations of the port. The majority equity of the company to be formed for administrative operations would be vested with the Sri Lankan side, he said. However, the Chinese company would possess majority equity in the company proposed for commercial operations of the Port.



Sri Lanka Opposition Leader asks President to outline a program to address missing persons issue
[Tuesday 2017-07-25 18:00]

Sri Lanka's Leader of Opposition and the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan has asked the President Maithripala Sirisena to outline a program to address the 'Missing Persons Issue' in a 'meaningful and purposeful way'. In a letter to the President, the Opposition Leader pointed out that the Government has an obligation to the families of the missing persons to enable them to bring an end to their suffering. The letter has also been sent to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.



An airport within Colombo harbour
[Tuesday 2017-07-25 18:00]

The Megapolis and Western Development Ministry announced that it had submitted a proposal to the government to build an airport within the Colombo Port premises. The ministry believes that if this project becomes a reality, it would be the strongest port in the region. Minister Champika Ranawaka said if the proposal is implemented within the next 10 years, the people would capable to airlift from the Colombo Fort without going to Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).



Protests in the North over shooting, cop remembered Top News
[Monday 2017-07-24 18:00]

Protests were staged in the North today over the shooting incident targeting a prominent judge while events were also held in remembrance of the policeman killed in the incident. Judges, Magistrates and lawyers in the North including Vavuniya and Mannar staged protests over the attack on High Court Judge M. Illanchelian.



Canadian PM reiterates need for accountability in Sri Lanka
[Monday 2017-07-24 18:00]

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau today reiterated the need for accountability in Sri Lanka. He said this in a message to mark the anniversary of Black July.


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