Tamil Tigers "cornered", war close to end; China plans new space station; Zimbabwe divides southern African leaders as talk begin; Number of Japanese companies falls; and more
Top of the Agenda: Sri Lanka War
The Sri Lankan government says it is close to ending a twenty-five year war with Tamil Tiger separatists, following the capture this weekend of Mullativu, the last town held by the rebels. According to al-Jazeera, a Sri Lankan military spokesman has said the rebels now control only a "small strip" of land in the northeast of the country and are cornered. Agence France-Presse reports many of the rebels have fled into pockets of jungle and that the Sri Lankan military is pushing into these areas to try to root them out. Should the conflict end, it would mark the resolution to a long-running and bloody conflict that has simmered since the 1980s and has consistently challenged peacekeepers and international organizations.
The capture of Mullativu comes after Sri Lankan troops seized major Tamil Tiger strongholds earlier this month--first the group's headquarters and capital, Kilinochchi, on January 2, and then Elephant Pass, a former army base and gateway between the north and south of Sri Lanka that the rebels had controlled for twenty-three years. The Associated Press quotes a senior UN official in the region saying that "many" civilians have been killed in the fighting. In Washington, ethnic Tamils protested the violence (Boston Globe) outside the Indian embassy in an effort to call attention to the civilian bloodshed.
The al-Jazeera article says it remains unclear whether rebels might attempt to mount a counter-attack from the jungle.
- This CFR.org Backgrounder profiles the Tamil Tigers.
- Reuters has a timeline of the conflict between Tamil rebels and Sri Lanka's government.
PACIFIC RIM: China's Space Station
Coinciding with China's celebration of the Lunar new year, Beijing debuted plans (Engadget) for a new space station it says it will launch by 2010.
JAPAN: The Asahi Shimbun reports the number of public companies listed in Japan in 2008 dropped for the first time in thirty years, due to soaring bankruptcies.