Piracy continues to threaten humanitarian aid to Somalia – UN agency

Early on Sunday morning, WFP received a distress call from a Somali contractor who came under attack from pirates in two speed boats some 60 miles off the Somali port of Brava, south of Mogadishu. The ship had just unloaded some 7,000 tons of food and was sailing back to Mombasa, Kenya. Although the vessel and its crew escaped unhurt, the agency said it remains very concerned about piracy off the Somali coast and appealed to the international community to help secure the waters off Somalia and protect humanitarian deliveries. Some 80 per cent of WFP food assistance for Somalia moves by sea, and pirate attacks threaten to cut the main supply route, jeopardizing rations for the 1.2 million people WFP expects to be feeding by the end of 2007 as drought, floods and factional fighting take their toll.Arrangements are now being made for a French naval vessel to escort WFP cargos next month. Meanwhile, discussions are continuing with the Somali authorities to obtain the release of the agency’s Officer-in-Charge for Mogadishu, Idris Osman, who has been detained without charge since Wednesday. Mr. Osman was seized when up to 60 uniformed and armed members of Somalia National Security Service stormed a UN compound in Mogadishu. He remains captive at NSS headquarters.Condemning the continued detention of her colleague, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran last Friday decried the lack of security for humanitarian workers in countries such as Somalia and called on the government to ensure their safety. “It has become extremely difficult for us to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people in Mogadishu and throughout Somalia. We are operating in an environment which is fraught with insecurity: piracy, banditry and widespread violence. We need the Government to protect humanitarian workers,” she stated. 22 October 2007The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has condemned an attempted pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, the latest incident in an already tense and insecure environment which witnessed the detention of one of the agency’s officials last week. read more

Angola UNICEF supports programme to improve maternal and child health

4 August 2008The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is backing an Angolan Government initiative to provide better health-care services to expectant mothers and newborn babies as part of efforts to improve maternal and child survival in the poor African country. UNICEF staff are working with health authorities in five Angolan provinces to implement the project, monitoring local health facilities and providing educational, technical and financial assistance, according to a release issued by the agency on Friday.The aim of the programme is to deliver health services that are high impact but still low in cost and accessible to women, especially in rural or isolated areas, who would otherwise not have access to such services and would give birth at home without the help of trained health workers.Expectant mothers are given intermittent preventive treatment for malaria, vaccination against tetanus, voluntary testing and counselling for HIV, education about good hygiene practices, free insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria, and also iron and folic acid supplements.UNICEF said mothers are given advice on potential danger signs that should prompt them to seek medical assistance for their newborn babies, which are also immunized against tuberculosis and polio.Improving maternal mortality is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of anti-poverty targets which world leaders have agreed to strive to achieve by 2015.The five provinces involved in this programme, which is part of a revitalization of Angolan health services that started in 2006, are Bié, Moxico, Huíla, Cunene and Luanda. read more

Nepal UN official calls for release of children in Maoist cantonments

25 August 2008A senior United Nations official today called on Nepal’s authorities and the country’s Maoist forces to immediately free nearly 3,000 children who have still not been formally released from the Maoist cantonments, despite the end of the armed conflict in the Asian nation. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a statement stressing that the comprehensive peace agreement which ended Nepal’s conflict called for the immediate release of the children once they entered the cantonments.Yet although many children have been released informally, there has been no progress in securing their formal discharge, Ms. Coomaraswamy said.Last year the UN Mission in Nepal and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) identified that there were 2,973 under-age members of the Maoist forces as of May 2006.“UNMIN child protection advisers, UNICEF and its partners should have access to these children to make sure that they receive their rights to recovery and reintegration,” the Special Representative said.Ms. Coomaraswamy added that the recent successful staging of national elections in Nepal indicates that the country is “entering a hopeful phase for peace and prosperity. However, the promise of peace has not come to fruition for these children, whose lives have been adversely affected by the conflict.”She said a key element of the peace is to ensure children associated with armed groups can share in the dividends and receive support for their reintegration into regular society. read more

SecretaryGeneral convenes senior UN staff retreat in Italy

Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General from Headquarters and other duty stations will be attending the two-day gathering, will also assess the world body’s performance over the past 20 months.“The working sessions will also address organizational matters of accountability, teamwork and building a modern, mobile and efficient workforce within the UN system,” spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.This year’s retreat – organized by the Turin-based UN staff college, the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the UN Department of Management – marks the second in a row to be held in the northern Italian city.It kicked off this morning after the swearing-in of two new senior staff members: Navanethem Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Peter Taksøe-Jensen, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.Following the end of the retreat, Mr. Ban will travel to Geneva, where he will address the latest session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 31 August, coinciding with the body’s 20th anniversary.On Monday, at a memorial ceremony for the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, he will lay a wreath for the fallen staff and meet with survivors and the families of victims in Geneva.The Secretary-General is also expected to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Iraq and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on science and technology cooperation.The trip will wrap up in Spain, where he will give a speech at Exposition Zaragoza 2008 about the importance of water for social, economic and political security and meet with Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos. He will also stop in the capital Madrid for talks with Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero. 29 August 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a retreat today in Turin, Italy, for dozens of senior United Nations officials to discuss how the Organization can best tackle key global challenges, including climate change, the food crisis, human rights and staff safety. read more

Somalia UN envoy sets goal of August 2011 for professional security force

“If well utilized, this is a reasonable period to rebuild the initial element of your country’s security forces,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told a Joint Security Committee (JSC) meeting of Somali officials and interested partners in Nairobi, capital of neighbouring Kenya.“We all are here to help, not to study or to delay our contribution to what is a joint undertaking between you and the international community… Security forces should be better organized and strengthened. What has been achieved since the 7 May attempted coup is great but more needs to be done,” he added, referring to a surge in armed violence targeting the TFG then.The JSC was established in January under agreements signed in Djibouti between the TFG and some Islamist groups to strengthen the Government’s security capacity. Its members include senior representatives of the TFG security institutions, the African Union and its peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN and other members of the international community, including the European Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in East Africa, the Arab League, Norway and the United States.Mr. Ould-Abdallah singled out AMISOM for its work under such adverse conditions. “The courage of the AMISOM troops and their heroic conduct will never be fully appreciated at their true value,” he said.He called on Somali leaders to continue their commitment to dialogue and working together more closely to achieve peace and stability in a country that as been ravaged by factional fighting and has not had a functioning central government since 1991.He also urged the international community working to remain focused on key priorities including security, humanitarian assistance, human rights as well as development, particularly job creation. 12 October 2009A professional, well-organized security force must be established in Somalia by August 2011, the end of the mandate of the current Transitional Federal Government (TFG), if peace and stability are to be assured, the top United Nations envoy for the strife-torn country said today. read more

Tourism can play key role in preserving worlds wetlands UN agency says

2 February 2012Responsible, sustainable tourism can play a valuable role in conserving and protecting the world’s often fragile wetlands, the head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said today. “Wetlands, their wildlife, and the human communities in and around them can benefit directly from tourism through entry fees, sale of local products, and so on,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO.“At the same time, the ‘use’ of wetlands as tourism locations comes with certain risks,” he added. “The challenge is to ensure that sustainable tourism practices are being implemented and bring benefits for wetlands, their wildlife and people… We would emphasize that tourism businesses, if well informed and prepared to adapt their operations, can certainly promote and support wetland biodiversity and the natural beauty of wetlands.”UNWTO today marked World Wetlands Day, which this year has the theme of wetland tourism, by saying it will join forces with the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, to promote responsible tourism and recreation in wetlands worldwide.Many wetlands, from the Okavango Delta in Southern Africa to the Danube Delta in Eastern Europe and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, are in a fragile state as a result of both human and natural forces. read more

Closing Bell Toronto stock market ends lower as traders turn negative on

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market moved lower on Tuesday as investors backed away from the optimism that characterized trading earlier in the session.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,257.18 -56.36 -0.46%S&P 500 — 13,457.55 -101.37 -0.75%Dow — 13,457.55 -101.37 0.75%Nasdaq — 3,117.73 -43.05 -1.36%The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 56.36 points to 12,257.18. The TSX Venture Exchange fell 20.25 points to 1,313.21.The Canadian dollar was at 101.98 US, off 0.19 of a cent, as the safe-haven greenback lost some ground.Traders had kept stock markets positive throughout much of the morning after U.S. consumer confidence hit its highest level in seven months in September, but comments from a member of the U.S. Federal Reserve appeared to dash the sentiment.Bank of Philadelphia president Charles Plosser questioned the Fed’s latest round of stimulus, suggesting in a speech that it wouldn’t help the economy grow. That opinion seemed enough to tip the scale back towards concern.Wall Street bore the brunt of the decline, with the Dow Jones industrials backed off 101.37 points to 13,457.55. The Nasdaq composite index slid 43.05 points to 3,117.73 and the S&P 500 index was 15.30 points lower to 1,441.59.Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, added to the eroding sentiment. The company is lowering expectations for its profit in 2015 because of slower-than-expected growth in the global economy.“Our view of the world right now is that we don’t think the markets will be propelled forward in the next month,” said Paul Vaillancourt, vice-president and chief investment officer at Canadian Wealth Management.“We are anticipating a little bit of consolidation after a pretty good run. But having said that … we don’t think we’re going to see a significant sell off.”In commodities, November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved down 56 cents to close at US$91.37 a barrel. The TSX energy sector lost 1.4%.December bullion increased $1.80 to US$1,766.40 an ounce. December copper gained 2.7 cents to US$3.76 a pound.A report from Statistics Canada said retail sales rose 0.7% to $39 billion in July, more than offsetting a decline in June. The increase was largely weighted in higher sales of cars, trucks and auto parts, as well as general merchandise.South of the border, the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 70.3, up from 61.3 in August — the highest reading since February.And the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller index report showed that U.S. home prices increased 1.2% nationally in July compared with the same month last year. Prices also rose in July from June in all 20 cities tracked by the report. It’s the third straight month in which prices rose in every city.In Canada, Forbes & Manhattan Coal Corp. says it’s buying majority stakes in an operating coal mine and an undeveloped anthracite deposit in South Africa from Rio Tinto PLC for about C$52.3 million plus royalties. Its shares were ahead two cents to 67 cents.Shares of Research In Motion lifted 32 cents to $6.50 after the BlackBerry maker gave developers a look at the progress made in developing its new operating system, due to hit the market early next year.In Europe, Spain is due to unveil this week a new series of cost-cutting measures and structural reforms that could pave the way for demand for financial aid from its fellow eurozone countries. But hopes that Madrid will apply for the aid were overcome by concern that it was delaying the move. Spain has been reluctant to ask since such assistance comes with strings attached.Another key issue is whether eurozone countries will grant Greece more time to reach its deficit reduction targets. The country also needs to finalize a package of austerity measures but political leaders are struggling to compromise as popular anger increases.Here’s the news investors were watching today:RIM plans BlackBerry 10 launch on six continents to reach faithfulWhat the world’s 14 most important commodities will doSpain braces for more austerity painFlaherty urges businesses to open wallets, forge partnerships with emerging economiesON DECK WEDNESDAYECONOMIC NEWSUNITED STATES8:30 a.m.New home sales (Aug): Economists expect 2.2% rise CORPORATE NEWSCANADAAGF Management Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 21¢ a share read more

Monk sentenced to death after 50 years

Bandaranaike’s assassin Talduwe Ratugama Rallage Weris Singho better known as Talduwe Somarama openly converted to Christianity, just weeks prior to being hanged in the Welikada gallows. This is the first time that a monk has been sentenced to death since 1962, the Magistrate had said.In 1962 a monk was sentenced to death over the assassination of former Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike. A Buddhist monk has been sentenced to death by the Tangalle Magistrate over the murder of a farmer.Another suspect was also given the death sentence over the murder of the farmer by the Tangalle Magistrate today. read more

Over 70 houses damaged in Batti

The DMC said that around 100 people were displaced by the incident and one child sustained injuries and was admitted to hospital.Temporary shelters have been erected for the displaced families in the area and dry rations have also been provided. Strong winds lashed through Batticaloa last evening damaging at least 73 houses, the Disaster Management Center (DMC) said today.Of the houses damaged some 20 houses were completely destroyed by the winds displacing several people. Efforts are underway to repair the damaged houses, the DMC said. read more

JVP slams appointment of more Ministers

He said that the JVP condemns the new appointments as it also takes place at a time when the Government has exceeded its 100 day mandate. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) today slammed the decision by President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint more Deputy Ministers.JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said that the appointment of new Deputy Ministers is taking place as and when the Government feels like it. Silva noted that there are 82 members in the Government now and this includes 40 cabinet Ministers, 14 State Ministers and 28 Deputy Ministers. He also said that if the appointments are being made to address a social need or to keep the Government in power then it should have been done at the very beginning and not when the Government has no mandate to remain in power.“We feel this is being done with some other objective,” he said. Silva also noted that the 19th Amendment which was proposed by the current Government and passed by Parliament and will become law when the new Government takes office, ensures that only 40 members are in the Government.He said that the current Government should look at telling the people there is no need for a Government with more than 40 members by setting the example instead of proposing one thing and doing something else. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Gold bars smuggled from Lanka to India seized

The team intercepted the car and questioned the occupants, Karthikeyan and Sheik Fareed, who admitted to having concealed the smuggled gold bars. Officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Chennai zonal unit, seized 15.2 kg of gold bars that were smuggled from Sri Lanka and arrested two persons transporting them in a car near the Papanadu village in the Thanjavur district in Tiruchi on Wednesday.Acting on a tip-off that gold bars were being brought by boat from Sri Lanka to Muthupet coastal area for transportation to Chennai by car, a team of DRI officers positioned themselves on the Pattukottai–Thanjavur National Highway near Papanadu village in the early hours on Wednesday. The officers recovered 12 packets containing gold bars hidden below the back seat of the vehicle. There were 80 foreign marked gold bars and 24 pieces of crude gold bars, totally weighing 15.2 kg estimated at Rs. 4.1 crore. (Courtesy The Hindu) read more

Government asserts Zeid visit not linked to resolution

This week’s visit by top United Nations official for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to Sri Lanka has nothing to do with the review of the implementation of the Geneva resolution, according to the Sri Lankan government, The Hindu newspaper reports.Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be here in the country during February 6 – 9. It was he who told the media in September that “our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred [during the final stages of the civil war] in Sri Lanka.” On the agenda of the U.N. official, the spokesperson, however, maintained that he had “no agenda.” She recalled that at the time of the presidential election in January 2015, there was a commitment given (by Maithripala Sirisena) to people of Sri Lanka on good governance and the protection of human rights. “As part of the government’s willingness to work together with international community, the invitation was extended to him,” she explained.Al Hussein’s visit will take place at a time when the public discourse in Sri Lanka has again turned to the Geneva resolution. An official at his office in Geneva said a release, providing more details, would be issued shortly.Responding to queries by The Hindu, Mahishini Colonne, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the visit was in response to an invitation extended by the government in February 2015, many months before the adoption of the resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October. This was on the lines of the previous Rajapaksa regime’s action of inviting Mr. Al Hussein’s predecessor, Navaneetham Pillay, who came to Sri Lanka in August 2013. On Monday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told a seminar, organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), that the government was not deviating from the Geneva resolution in any way and the government had been “implementing” it. He added that the country “is now in the process of ensuring that human rights will never become an issue again and democracy is further strengthened.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

Integrated social welfare register to reduce ghost beneficiaries

The Prime Minister’s office said that once the program is completed, it will be very useful in streamlining social welfare handouts, better targeting and reducing ‘ghost’ beneficiaries, if any. The Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, through the Department of Project Management and Monitoring, with technical assistance of ICTA, has prepared a single window for an Integrated Social Welfare Register.The register is based on the recipient’s unique National Identify Card (NIC) number, for all handouts from Ministries, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities. Currently 80% of data has been uploaded to the system and further refining is in progress, the Prime Minister’s office said. The Government says the introduction of the ‘Adhaar’ program in India, with a unique number for all social payment beneficiaries, has resulted in substantial elimination of ghost beneficiaries. (Colombo Gazette) read more

TNA raises concerns over Sampanthans security

Sarawanabavan said that the Government must take immediate action to address the concerns. He said that he will look into the concerns raised by the MP and ensure the opposition leader is given a proper backup vehicle. (Colombo Gazette) In response, Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake said that the vehicles given to the opposition leader for his backup security is part of the existing fleet of vehicles with the police. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) today raised concerns in Parliament over the poor security given to opposition leader R. Sampanthan.TNA Parliamentarian E. Sarawanabavan said that the opposition leader has been given vehicles in poor condition for his security. read more

India and Lanka disagree on some changes in ETCA

The Indian side resisted these moves on the grounds that trade pacts are too serious, too far reaching and wide-ranging in their impact to be tailored to suit short-term political requirements. Negotiations between India and Sri Lanka on an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) hit the hard road at an officials-level meeting held in Colombo on January 4 and 5, the New Indian Express reported.Informed sources told Express that the Sri Lankan side was pressing the Indians to make certain concessions explicitly to enable it sell the pact to the Sri Lankan masses who tend to imagine that ETCA would be a rank give away to the Big Brother across the Palk Strait. There were differences over priorities. The Sri Lankan side lay great stress on correcting the flaws or removing the irritants in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which became operational in 2000. The Sri Lankan side has been seeking the removal of a plethora of Non Tariff Barriers (NBTs) which impede the entry of Sri Lankan goods into the Indian market. Sri Lankans feel that if the NTBs are not there, the trade gap would not be as big as it is now.But the Indians have had difficulty in removing many of the NTBs. Or, as the Sri Lankans allege, they have been tardy and reluctant.At any rate, Indians think that pegging the signing of ETCA to removing the flaws in the FTA is neither warranted nor practical because the two are different kettles of fish. FTA is about trade in goods while ETCA is about investment, services and economic cooperation. It is to be a re-designed reincarnation of the now abandoned Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CEPA). Above all, there were differences over the time period to end the negotiations and sign the pact. Not having been able to sign it by December 2016 to time with the second anniversary of the Sirisena regime, the Sri Lankans wanted the talks to be wrapped up fast by mid 2017 before the local bodies and provincial elections. But the Indians would not be hustled as trade talks are complicated affairs and take years to conclude internationally.India was not averse to holding meetings often, say once in a month, but it was against rushing through as both sides have vital interests to be safeguarded or pursued. As the Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during her visit to Colombo last year, both India and Sri Lanka have concerns, interests and issues to address, and that India is not in favor having a strict timeframe to wrap up the talks.While no date was fixed for the next round of talks, it is likely that the next round could be held in February. (Colombo Gazette) With the opposition, led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, backing the anti-ETCA campaign, the pact is expected to be an issue in the forthcoming local bodies and provincial elections scheduled for June-July and September respectively, unless it is tailored to suit the electoral agenda of the ruling coalition.But tailoring it to an electoral agenda might mean India’s giving in to Sri Lanka in ways which could adversely affect the interests of its own private sector. This aspect has to be borne in mind as the primary driving force in the liberalized Indian economy is the private sector. However, the Sri Lankan side had good reasons to pursue a political goal. Even as the talks were on in the city, posters against ETCA, describing it as “aggression”, appeared in parts of Central Colombo. At any rate the Sinhalese language slogan “ETCA EPA” (No to ETCA) has caught the imagination of the people. At official level trade talks, the minutiae tend to get a lot of attention. Discussions take place over every sentence and paragraph and the order in which they are written. It is said that the Sri Lankans wanted some things to be stated not only in the introductory statement but also in the main body of the agreement as a clause which the Indians resisted. read more

Indian boats to be released on conditional basis

The Government says some Indian boats will be released on a conditional basis.Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that local fishermen had agreed to requests to release Indian boats. He said that so far no Indian boat has been freed but since local fishermen have no objections, some boats will be freed under some conditions. He said that Sri Lanka will continue to have talks with India to resolve the fishing issue. He said that bottom trawling by Indian fishermen has had a negative impact on fishermen in the North.Amaraweera said that following talks with the Indian Government, India has taken steps to discourage bottom trawling by Indian fishermen. The Minister said that the Government has been very firm on taking action against poaching in Sri Lankan waters. read more

Body of British national found in Maligawatta area

The body was found with wounds caused by a sharp object.According to reports, the British national had arrived in Sri Lanka in November and was scheduled to leave the country this week but he had extended his visa until January 25. (Colombo Gazette) Investigations have been launched into the death of a British national whose body was found in the Maligawatta area today.The Police said that the 38-year-old British national was found dead at Araliya Uyana in Maligawatta.

At Singapore summit Ranil says Sri Lanka will exploit strategic location

Sri Lanka’s long-term objective envisages exploiting its strategic location in the Indian Ocean to ensure its economic development in a region which will be pivotal for global economic growth, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.Speaking at the 6th World Cities Summit, CleanEnviro Summit and International Water Week in Singapore, the Prime Minister said that the key thrust of the Sri Lanka initiative will be the Western Megapolis and the two connecting corridor which will cover 9 million people. The Southern corridor will include 3 large eco friendly Tourist Resorts of over 500 acres each in addition to a fully restored Galle Heritage Fort.  Surbana Jurong is also planning the development of Hambantota.He also said that Sri Lanka needs to politically and financially revitalize and empower local governments.  The biggest issue in the management of mega-cities is that they involve many levels of Government and Local Authorities.“Political power in many of our countries were distributed between the Central Government, the Provinces and the Local Authorities in the last century when concepts such as mega-cities and global connectivity had not even been thought of. Given that we will now have to exercise these powers for completely different objectives in a completely different environment, it is inevitable then that we must reconsider the structure of our local governments,” he said. (Colombo Gazette) The Prime Minister said that the new landfill adjacent to the Colombo Port is planned as an offshore Financial Centre. He said four Special Economic Zones will provide the infrastructure for industry. “We envision the Western Province of Sri Lanka, which includes Colombo and the capital Sri Jayewardenepura as a Megapolis of interconnected metropolitan areas.  This would include a light railway system with elevated railways, elevated highways, a multi-modal transport hub, the development of old waterways, and 3 LNG plants.  It will encompass a Logistics City, a Forest City, and an Aero City.   We will aim for maximum livability by implementing sewerage and solid waste projects, an Eco Zone, and Riverine Buffer Zone Development.  Plans for the megapolis were prepared by Surbana Jurong and the Ministry of Megapolis are in the initial stages of implementation,” he said.He said Sri Lanka will also develop two Urban Corridors; one along the 134 km-long Central Expressway leading to Kandy, and the other along the 241 km-long Southern Highway via Galle, leading to the newly built Hambantota port and Mattala airport. He said the mega infrastructure includes the development of the ports of Colombo and Hambantota in the South. read more

Army says Police did not share intelligence report

The Government also admitted today that intelligence information had been shared about a possible suicide attack in Colombo but the information had not been taken seriously by the Police.Minister of Telecommunications, Foreign Employment and Sports Harin Fernando made public a warning letter received by the authorities, which circulated on social media earlier. Senanayake said that the Army has sought an integrated system for intelligence sharing. He said that the Army is also seeking authority to investigate and make arrests. The Government had earlier said that the latter was fake.However Fernando made the letter public on his twitter account saying some intelligence officers were aware of the incidence.“Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored,” he said. The Army says the Police did not share any intelligence report of a possible attack on churches and other locations.Army Commander, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake said that there was a lapse in intelligence sharing. Meanwhile, Minister Mano Ganesan said that his Ministerial Security Division (MSD) officers had also been warned by their Division a week earlier, about two suspected suicide bombers in Colombo targeting politicians. Over 300 people had been killed in the Easter Sunday attacks in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. (Colombo Gazette) read more