New mass grave found in Sri Lanka four years after war

Updated 18 March 2014
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New mass grave found in Sri Lanka four years after war

COLOMBO: An unmarked mass grave has been found in Sri Lanka’s former war zone, the first discovery of an unmarked gravesite since troops defeated Tamil rebels more than four years ago, police said.
Construction workers in the coastal district of Mannar stumbled on at least 10 skeletal remains buried at a location where they were laying a new water pipe, said police spokesman Ajith Rohana.
“A judicial medical officer has gone to the site. Further forensic examinations are underway to determine the age of the mass grave,” Rohana said. “Additional staff are being inducted for the investigation.”
There was no immediate indication who the victims were or how and when they had died.
However, it is the first time that evidence of a mass grave has emerged in the former war zone since troops declared victory over separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas in May 2009.
Both government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels have been accused of killing civilians during the 37-year separatist war.
Sri Lanka has denied allegations that its troops killed up to 40,000 civilians in the final months of fighting.
Earlier this year construction workers stumbled on another mass grave in central Sri Lanka, hundreds of kilometers away from the conflict zone.
At least 154 people had been buried in the grave at the central district of Matale, a hotbed of an anti-government uprising between 1987 and 1990.
Local forensic experts said it dated back to a period when the then-government led a crackdown on leftist Sinhalese rebels.
The insurgency by the mainly Sinhalese JVP was unrelated to the separatist campaign in the north and east by Tamil rebels.
The UN has estimated that at least 100,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist war.


US Navy chief does not rule out sending aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait

Updated 55 min 26 sec ago
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US Navy chief does not rule out sending aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait

  • Aircraft carriers, typically equipped with about 80 aircraft and crews of about 5,000, are key to the US military’s ability to project power globally
  • The US Navy continues to pass through waters in the South China Sea that Beijing considers its territory

TOKYO: The US Navy has not ruled out sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, despite military technology advances by China that pose a greater threat to US warships than ever before, the chief of US naval operations said on Friday.
Washington sent ships through the strategic waterway three times last year as it makes more frequent transits of the strait that separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, but it has not dispatched a carrier in more than 10 years.
During that time, China has modernized its forces with missiles designed to strike enemy ships.
“We don’t really see any kind of limitation on whatever type of ship could pass through those waters,” Admiral John Richardson told reporters in the Japanese capital, when asked if more advanced Chinese weapons posed too big a risk.
“We see the Taiwan Strait as another (stretch of) international waters, so that’s why we do the transits.”
Aircraft carriers, typically equipped with about 80 aircraft and crews of about 5,000, are key to the US military’s ability to project power globally.
On Tuesday, a US official told Reuters the United States was closely watching Chinese intentions toward Taiwan as advances in military technology give Beijing’s forces greater capability to occupy an island it considers a breakaway province.
In a report, the US Defense Intelligence Agency called Taiwan the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization.
Richardson, who visited China before traveling to Japan, said he told his Chinese counterparts the United States was opposed to any unilateral action by Beijing or Taipei.
He also urged China to stick to international rules during unplanned naval encounters at sea.
That request came after a Chinese destroyer approached the USS Decatur in October and forced it to change course as it challenged Chinese territorial claims in the contested South China Sea with a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP).
“We have made this very clear that this was an excursion, a departure from the normal adherence to those rules and we would hope that behavior in the future would be much more consistent,” Richardson said.
“We should not see each other as a threatening presence in these waters.”
The US Navy continues to pass through waters in the South China Sea that Beijing considers its territory.
On Jan 7, a US guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 miles of a Chinese-occupied island, prompting Beijing’s rebuke that it had “gravely infringed upon China’s sovereignty.”
China, which claims almost all of the strategic waterway, says its intentions are peaceful. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims.