Lanka, the military says it has captured more territory formerly held by Tamil
Tigers, as it moves toward the last stronghold of the rebels. The island country
also witnessed a second attack on the media, this week, when the editor of a
newspaper critical of the government was shot and killed by a gunman. The Sri
Lankan government has vowed to end a long-running ethnic conflict by crushing
Nearly a week after capturing the rebel headquarters,
Kilinochchi, the military said Thursday that it has overrun another town,
Pallai, held by the Tamil Tigers.
The military is trying to open a key
pass which connects the northern Jaffna Peninsula to the rest of the country. It
was taken by the rebels, eight years ago. The military is then expected to take
on the rebels in the last major town they hold, Mullaittivu.
spokesman, Udaya Nanayakkara, says forces are meeting with little resistance
from the rebels.
"Troops [are] advancing on almost all fronts. They (the
rebels) are not putting up much resistance, but they are trying their level best
to defend the areas presently in Mullaittivu," he said.
believes the Tigers are concentrating their weapons and resources in
Mullaittivu, for a last stand against the government.
The army is
optimistic that, in the coming weeks, it will recapture all territory held by
the rebels in the north, where they have been fighting since 1983 to establish
an independent Tamil homeland.
The rebels have vowed to fight back,
calling the recent reverses insignificant and saying they have recaptured lost
territory, in the past.
As the battle with the rebels raged in the north,
the media in Colombo came under attack for a second time since
The chief editor of the Sunday
Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickramatunga, was shot and killed by an
unknown gunman as he drove to work near the capital, Colombo.
newspaper has been locked in a court battle with the president's brother,
Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, about stories it has carried criticizing
the government's handling of the war and alleging corruption in procurement of
Rohan Edresinghe, at Colombo's independent think
tank, the Center for Policy Alternatives, says concern is mounting that the
government's war with the rebels is impacting democratic freedom.
other major casualty has been democratic freedom and human rights," said
Edresinghe. "The concern is that some of these acts have been perpetrated by
people who may have connections with the government or, at the very least, the
government has not provided adequate security for people who dissent or people
who voice a different point of view."
Tuesday, more than a dozen gunmen
stormed the studios of Sri Lanka's biggest private broadcaster, smashing and
torching equipment. The broadcaster had been called "unpatriotic" by sections of
the state media for its coverage of the war against the rebels.