Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers threatened yesterday to kill a breakaway leader following a split that jeopardizes the strength of the rebel group and the island's peace process. \nThe first open warning against eastern leader Karuna was accompanied by a similar threat to any fighters who continued to support him in a large area of the east coast of Sri Lanka. \n"To safeguard our nation and our people, it has been decided to get rid of Karuna from our soil," the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said on its official www.lttepeacesecretariat.com Web site. \nThe warning is unlikely to mean just expelling Karuna -- the nom de guerre of the eastern commander, V. Muralitharan -- from rebel-controlled areas, as the Tigers have a history of showing no tolerance to internal challenges. \nThe rebels have been fighting for a separate state in the north and east for two decades and the split with Karuna is the worst internal threat to the LTTE -- known for its strict discipline -- in that time. \nIt has overshadowed a parliamentary campaign that is being fought largely over who is best to lead the government's peace negotiations, President Chandrika Kumaratunga or her rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. \nThe Tigers said the more than 6,000 cadres supporting Karuna should abandon him and return to their families. \n"If any of the cadres decide to arm in favour of Karuna, he/she would be deemed responsible for the consequences. The demise of such a cadre will not be with the honour of a martyr," the LTTE said. \nKaruna's eastern faction was not available for comment. \nAlthough Sri Lankan military officials say there is no sign the two sides are getting ready to fight, there have been some movements of rebel troops. \nAn internal war could destroy the organization, analysts in Colombo say. \nThe statement repeated accusations that Karuna broke from the group to avoid facing charges of "immoral conduct, fraudulent financial transactions and arbitrary assassinations." \nKaruna says he was forced to break away because Tamils in the east were being mistreated by northern Tamils, who make up the majority of the LTTE leadership, including top leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. \nKumaratunga and Wickreme-singhe have said they want to restart stalled peace talks if their parties win the April 2 poll, but want to wait and see what happens in the LTTE before commenting on how the split would affect the talks. \nThe president, who accuses Wickremesinghe of giving away too much to win peace with the rebels, has also said she would honor a cease-fire which the prime minister had signed with the rebels more than two years ago.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big