Sri Lanka minister's killing sparks civil war fears 13-August-2005 :: COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency on Saturday after a sniper shot dead Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, an attack police blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels and which raised the spectre of a return to civil war. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam denied any involvement, condemning the attack and warning the state of emergency was endangering a 3-1/2-year ceasefire. The government said it found the rebels' denial hard to believe but said the truce would hold. Analysts said there was no sign of a return to a war that has already killed over 64,000 people in two decades but the killing and the response had made the situation extremely tense. "We strongly condemn this act which, according to security sources, has been perpetrated by the LTTE," Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a statement. Emergency laws that allow free deployment of troops were precautionary.
About Sri Lanka :: National Flower the Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea stellata).
Sri Lanka :: The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (இலங்கை in Tamil; known as Ceylon before 1972) is a tropical island nation off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent. The island was known in ancient times as Lanka, Lankadeepa (Sanskrit for "resplendent land"), Simoundou, Taprobane (from the Sanskrit Tāmaraparnī), Serendib (from the Sanskrit Sinhala-dweepa; the root of the word "serendipity"), and Selan. During colonization, the island became known as Ceylon, a name still used on occasion. Its unique shape and proximity to the Indian mainland have led some to refer to the island as India's Teardrop.
About 75 percent of the population belongs to the Sinhalese majority, which is predominantly Buddhist, mostly following the Theravada tradition. The other major group on the island is the Tamils, who constitute 18 percent of the population.
Unrest of a group of Tamil people developed due to caste differences within the Tamil population and other socio-economic problems such as poverty which was common to the majority of people in Sri Lanka. This lead to tension between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil minority which erupted in violence in 1983 following the killing of 13 soldiers of the Sri Lankan Army in Jaffna. This led to riots throughout the country and the deaths of hundreds of Sinhalese and Tamils over a three-day period; many more became refugees. Tens of thousands have died on both sides in the subsequent ethnic war that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government began a ceasefire in December 2001. Norway is mediating the peace process. The international anti-terrorism focus may have influenced the main Tamil rebel group to seek the ceasefire, as the LTTE was declared a terrorist organization by the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Canada and Sri Lanka.
On December 26, 2004, one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history, the Indian Ocean earthquake, struck off the western coast of Sumatra. The earthquake and subsequent tsunamis reportedly killed over 220,000 people around the rim of the Indian Ocean. The impact on Sri Lanka was severe. The south and east coasts were devastated by the 10-metre high tsunami, and tens of thousands died.
History of Sri Lanka :: The arrival of Sinhalese and Tamils on the island is a matter of great debate, as the history is often used to justify one or another position in Sri Lanka's on-going civil war.