Sri Lanka deports Indian reporter covering ex-warzone
Sri Lanka deports Indian reporter covering ex-warzone
The 24-year-old, who was working for a magazine based in the Indian city of Chennai, was arrested on Christmas Day for photographing military installations in Sri Lanka's north, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.
"We deported him this evening without pressing charges," Rohana said.
"But, we deleted all the pictures he had taken in the north."
Rohana said they suspected the reporter, identified as Tamil Prabhakaran, was trying to produce a documentary and write articles tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka.
Police said he had come into the country on a tourist visa and travelled to the former war zone without declaring that he was on assignment to report from the embattled area.
There is no official censorship in Sri Lanka, but foreign journalists travelling to the former conflict zone are still required to submit their passport to the military before entering, four years after the end of the war.
A British TV crew was also barred from travelling to the Jaffna area just before a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka last month that was dominated by a bitter dispute over war crimes.
Also in November, authorities forced out two Australian media rights activists after accusing them of entering the country on tourist visas and participating in a rights forum.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) accused Sri Lanka of keeping up a policy of harassing independent journalists despite the end of the fighting with Tamil rebels in May 2009.
"Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse continually insists that his administration has nothing to hide, yet time and time again, we see authorities harass and intimidate journalists in an effort to prevent them from doing their work," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
He had also called for Prabhakaran's immediate release.
Indian diplomats said they had been granted consular access to the reporter and were told earlier Saturday that he was being deported.
Sri Lanka has resisted international pressure to address allegations of war crimes committed during the military's final push against Tamil rebels in 2009 that ended the decades-long war.
According to the UN and rights groups, as many as 40,000 civilians may have died as troops loyal to the mainly Sinhalese government routed the Tamil Tiger rebel movement in its last stronghold in Jaffna in 2009.
Colombo denies the allegations but has began compiling a death toll from the war.
During the height of fighting, Sri Lanka prevented independent journalists traveling to the island's north, drawing criticism that it was a war without witnesses.
US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia
- No US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack
- The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo
JOHANNESBURG: A US military airstrike has killed 18 Al-Shabab extremists after US and local forces on the ground came under attack in southern Somalia, the US Africa Command said Saturday.
No US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack, an AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, told The Associated Press. The airstrike was carried out Friday in self-defense after extremists were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the US also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.
The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the US Africa Command statement said. Two other Al-Shabab extremists were killed by Somali forces “with small arms fire during the engagement,” it said.
The operation was Somali-led, the AFRICOM spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from Somali authorities.
The US has carried out more than 20 airstrikes this year against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.
US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump early in his term approved expanded operations against Al-Shabab. Dozens of drone strikes followed. Late last year the military also carried out its first airstrike against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State in northern Somalia.
Since the expanded operations, two US military personnel have been killed in Somalia.
A service member was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Mogadishu. And in June, one US special operations soldier was killed and four US service members wounded in an “enemy attack” as troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland.
The US currently has about 500 military personnel in the Horn of Africa nation.
Al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, was pushed out of Mogadishu in recent years but continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions. Its fighters continue to attack the bases of a multinational African Union force that remains largely responsible for security as Somalia’s fragile central government tries to recover from decades of chaos.
In the next few years Somali forces are expected to take over responsibility for the country’s security as the AU force withdraws. Concerns about their readiness remain high, and the UN Security Council recently voted to delay the handover’s target date to December 2021.