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Sri Lankan celebrates 60th anniversary
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Author:  Peter [ Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:24 am ]
Post subject:  Sri Lankan celebrates 60th anniversary

Sri Lankan celebrates 60th anniversary amid intense security

In a message marking Independence Day, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said one of the major challenges facing the nation after 60 years of freedom was the elimination of terrorism. 'In two years we have been able to liberate the eastern province and confine the terrorist to two districts in the north,' 'Defeat of the most powerful terrorist organizations in the world would also be a victory for the international community,' Rajapaksa said.

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@ Source: AFP / AP /Herald Tribune / Agencies /
Monday, February 04, 2008


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka celebrated its 60th independence anniversary Monday with parades, speeches and an intense security clampdown aimed at halting a growing wave of attacks blamed on separatist rebels that have killed civilians across the country.

The president hoisted the national flag to signal the start of official ceremonies marking the island's independence from Britain 60 years ago.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa vowed to intensify efforts to defeat 'terrorism' and recapture Tamil rebel-controlled areas in the northern part of the country, amidst stepped-up rebel attacks in the south. President Rajapaksa said 'terrorists' (Tamil rebels) were suffering an unprecedented defeats at the hands of the military in the latest phase of the nearly three-decade-old ethnic conflict.

'In two years we have been able to liberate the eastern province and confine the terrorist to two districts in the north,' said Rajapaksa, who was elected president two years ago. 'Defeat of the most powerful terrorist organizations in the world would also be a victory for the international community,' Rajapaksa said.

In a message marking Independence Day, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said one of the major challenges facing the nation after 60 years of freedom was the elimination of terrorism.

"As we complete sixty years of freedom there are two main challenges before us. One is the challenge of eradicating terrorism and the other is that of eradicating poverty. With regard to the first there is cause for satisfaction that the entire Eastern Province has now been cleared of terrorism. The moves to eradicate it from the North are still under way, with good expectations for success. We owe a heavy debt of gratitude to the security forces for their exemplary work in the battle against terror." he said.

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Many roads throughout the capital, Colombo, were sealed early Monday and one of Sri Lanka's main cellular phone providers shut off its text messaging service for six hours as top government officials gathered for a three-hour nationally televised ceremony.

Almost all ministers, armed forces commanders and politicians were attending the ceremony.

Despite the precautions, suspected rebels set off a bomb underneath a power transformer just south of Colombo about 6 a.m., causing no injuries, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.

The government forced the guerrillas to abandon their strongholds in the eastern province last year, and daily fighting rages between government forces and Tamil Tiger fighters along the front lines in the jungles of the north, where the rebels still control a de facto state.

In recent months, militants have set off bombs on buses, in train stations and at other civilian targets deep inside government-held territory.

Top government officials said they hoped to crush the rebels by the end of the year, and Rajapaksa said in his statement that efforts to force them from the north have "good expectations for success."

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