Three killed in Kashmir cross-border firing

Updated 04 August 2015

Three killed in Kashmir cross-border firing

SRINAGAR: Three civilians were killed Tuesday in heavy exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops along their border in the south of the disputed territory of Kashmir, officials from the rival sides said.
“One young man died during the shelling. We are asking residents in the area to remain confined to their homes,” Danesh Rana, inspector general of police in the Indian-controlled part of the region, told AFP.
The man was hit when a mortar bomb fired from the Pakistani side of the border landed near his house in the Pargwal sector, 340 km south of Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, Rana said.
The Pakistan foreign ministry accused Indian troops of “unprovoked firing” and targeting villages across the border that killed two civilians aged 14 and 22 and injured seven.
“The Government of Pakistan lodged protest with the Government of India on the latest unprovoked cease-fire violations by the Indian security forces,” the ministry said in a statement.
An Indian Border Security Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the exchange started in the morning when guards noticed “suspicious movement” in the bushes near the border and fired.
“It was an attempt at infiltration. The Pakistan side soon fired heavy weapons which is being retaliated (by Indian troops),” the official said.
A cease-fire agreement signed by the South Asian rivals in 2003 has largely held but each regularly accuses the other of violating it. Indian officials reported nearly 200 violations in July.
India’s defense minister told parliament recently that Pakistan had violated the cease-fire over 1,000 times since the agreement, while Pakistan regularly registers complaints of violations by India to a UN mission which monitors the border.
In July at least five civilians and two soldiers died on both sides during cross-border firing.
The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both, since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

Updated 18 October 2019

Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

  • President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

COLOMBO: The Palaly Airport, a former military air base, has been turned into Jaffna International Airport, the third gateway to the island.

The new airport was inaugurated by the island’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet ministers also witnessed the ceremony.

The refurbished airport, costing $13.8 million, has a 1,400-meter long runway to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft, which can carry 70 passengers. It will later be expanded to 3,500 meters to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly was a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII.

After independence, Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country for flights to southern India before the civil war began, almost 40 years ago.

President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the upgraded Jaffna International Airport marked a “turning point” in Sri Lankan aviation, which would be “an asset for the entire nation.”

“The airport will deploy regional airliners and be elevated to an Asian travel destination,” the premier said.

“The airport, which is expected to accommodate direct flights between Sri Lanka and India, will contribute toward promoting the tourism industry in the north. This will play an important role in the economic growth and overall development of the country,” he added.  

The service will be made available first for Indian destinations, and later for flights to Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East and some European cities.                                                      

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said Palaly airport was developed into Jaffna International Airport in a very short period of time.

“We were able to overcome the challenge successfully due to the sincere assistance we received from all institutes and stakeholders contributed to the development,” he said.

The minister said that in addition to Colombo and Jaffna international airports, three more airports in Sri Lanka will be upgraded to international airports, such as Ratmalana and Batticaloa.

“The opening of Jaffna airport for regional scheduled commercial passenger operations will undoubtedly enhance the quality of life of people in the area, with improved connectivity and accessibility that the airport brings to the region. It would also help reduce the current congestion at Bandaranaike International Airport and also eliminate the difficulties of the people in the north have in coming to Colombo Airport,” said H. M. C.Nimalsiri, director general of civil aviation.