Saturday, December 27, 2008

Air Force goes for terror leadership while army closing in LTTE HQ

Air Force goes for terror leadership while army closing in LTTE HQ

Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets have carried out air strikes this morning (Dec 27) targeting two locations frequented by terrorist chief V. Prbhakaran.

Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara told that the jets have targeted a hiding place of the terror chief located in thick jungle 1 km southeast of Vishwamadhu tank around 8.45 AM. Then, the jets have pounded a secret meeting place of the senior LTTE leaders located 1.5 km southeast Puthukkudiyiruppu at 12.45 PM, he said. The second target was also a boat modifying workshop of the LTTE, he added.

More than 150,000 Pakistanis mark 1 year since Bhutto killed

More than 150,000 Pakistanis mark 1 year since Bhutto killed --Recent police report says

More than 150,000 Pakistanis flocked to the mausoleum of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on Saturday after some walked hundreds of miles (kilometers) to offer flowers and kiss her grave on the first anniversary of her assassination.Police officer Tanveer Odho estimated between 150,000 to 200,000 turned out at the mausoleum Saturday.

Some mourners beat their heads and chests and wailing. Several burst into tears."I am taking these flowers to take home and will show my daughters this gift," said 41-year-old Saifullah Khan.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack on Dec. 27, 2007, as she was

leaving a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, just outside the capital of Islamabad.

Her assassination shocked the world, fanning revulsion at rising militant violence in Pakistan as well as conspiracy theories that the country's powerful spy agencies

were involved.

Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, took over Bhutto's party after her death and was elected president in September, facing a crushing economic crisis and soaring violence by militants also blamed for attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The country of 160 million is now facing a fresh crisis triggered by last month's terror attacks on Mumbai, which India has blamed on Pakistani militants.

"She gave a voice to the people, gave a voice to the downtrodden, the poor and the laborers," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in a telev

ised speech. "She was a hope for

the people of this country, she was a hope for this region."

President Zardri was to speak to

mourners later saturday.Sher Mohammad

23, was among many supp

orters who trekked hundreds of miles (kilometers) to


respects. "She gave her life for the people of this country, so we can walk a few miles to pay homage to her dig

nity," said Mohammad, whose feet were swollen from the trip.

At United Nations headquarters in New York, Secretary

-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday he hoped a U.N. commission

would be established in the nea

r future to investigate Bhutto's killing.

Bhutto's party and Zardari have

demanded a U.N. probe, but have not followed up vague allegations they

made after her death that forces linked to then-President Pervez M

usharraf were inv


Musharraf's government blamed Baitullah Me

hsud, a Pakistani militant commander with reported links to al-Qaida, citing a communications intercep

t in which Mehsud allegedly congratulated some of his

henchmen. A Mehsud spokesman has denied any involvement.

The United

States also said Islamic extremists carried out the attack.

The Security Council, the U.N.'s most powerful body, must authorize any investigating commission.

Tens of thousands of people memory Benazir Bhutto to mark the first anniversary of her assassination.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered at the mausoleum of Pakistan's former PM Benazir Bhutto to mark the first anniversary of her assassination.

Ceremonies in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, southern Pakistan, are expected to include prayers, poetry and speeches.

Mrs Bhutto was killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, after an election rally.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says he expects an independent inquiry into her death to be set up soon.See Video Clip;

Pictures with video;

Heavy security

People from all over Pakistan have been travelling by train, bus, car and even on foot to the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.

The tyrants and the killers have killed her but they shall never be able to kill her ideas
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari

"She gave her life for the people of this country, so we can walk a few miles to pay homage to her dignity," Sher Mohammad, who walked hundreds of kilometres to the mausoleum, told the Associated Press news agency.

Mrs Bhutto's widower, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, is expected to speak at the ceremony.

"In the tradition of a true Bhutto, she faced certain death rather than abandon her principles," Mr Zardari said ahead of the nationwide commemorations.

"The tyrants and the killers have killed her but they shall never be able to kill her ideas, which drove and inspired a generation to lofty aims," he said.

Thousands of police officers have been deployed in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, amid fears that Mr Zardari could also be targeted.

Multiple crises

Pakistanis are still dealing with the political consequences of Mrs Bhutto death, the BBC's Barbara Plett says.

Benazir Bhutto. File photo
Many Pakistanis say they sorely miss Benazir Bhutto

Her Pakistan People's Party went on to win February's elections, bolstered by a sympathy vote. Mr Zardari later became Pakistan's president, after General Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign.

But one year on, Mr Zardari's government is floundering, and is seen by many as unable to cope with the multiple crises, including an Islamist insurgency and an economic downturn, our correspondent says.

Relations with India are also tense following the deadly attacks by militants in Mumbai last month. Pakistan is reported to have redeployed some troops from the north-west to the border with India, while India has advised its citizens against travelling to Pakistan.

Cover-up claims

On Friday, the UN Secretary General expressed hopes that a UN investigation into Mrs Bhutto's assassination could be set up in the near future.

In a statement, Mr Ban said he was committed to helping Pakistan's search for "truth and justice".

Earlier this year, British detectives investigating the fatal attack in Rawalpindi said Mrs Bhutto died from the effect of a bomb blast, not gunfire.

Their account matched that of the Pakistani authorities.

But Bhutto's party has insisted she was shot by an assassin, and has accused the government of a cover-up.

Sri Lanka gives go-ahead for Pakistan tour

Sri Lanka gives go-ahead for Pakistan cricket tour

Sri Lanka has given the green light for the national cricket team to to ur Pakistan next month in place of India, who cancelled their five-week series over the Mumbai attacks.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama announced the decision after talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse, who sanctioned the tour, which will run from January 20 to February 25, the foreign

ministry said.

"Minister Bogollagama is of the view that sport is an effective means of promoting connectivity between nations and thereby enhancing friendship and mutual goodwill between countries," the ministry said in a statement.

Last week, Sri Lanka's cricket board said it had agreed to take India's place,

and will play five one-day internationals and three Tests.

Sri Lanka are likely to play Test matches in Karachi, Lahore and Multan, while Karachi would also host the two proposed one-dayers. The remaining one-dayers would likely be played in Lahore.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik welcomed the announcement, saying: "It's great news. It will give us some much needed international cricket and we are determined to do well."

The director general of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Javed Miandad, told AFP: "Not only the cricket fraternity but the whole of Pakistan is thankful to the Sri Lankan president for clearing their tour to Pakistan." ( Pix:1996-Lahore)

"I hope more and more people come to watch Sri Lanka play in Pakistan because we want to prove to the world that Pakistan is safe and secure for cricket," he added.

Pakistan last played a Test match in December last year, against India in Bangalore.

India called off their tour of Pakistan after New Delhi refused to grant the team permission to travel across the border in the wake of last month's attacks on Mumbai, which India has blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

The PCB said it was set to lose at least 25 million dollars as a result of the cancellation but would recover some of the money by hosting Sri Lanka.

Australia refused to tour Pakistan in March over security fears.

Then in August, the International Cricket Council (ICC) was forced to put off the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy to be hosted by Pakistan after South Africa pulled out of the event over security fears.

The ICC rescheduled the event for September-October 2009 but will assess the security situation in Pakistan during the Sri Lanka series before taking a final decision.