Govt. restricts foreigners from entering former war zone

Thursday, 16 October 2014 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Government yesterday announced that foreigners and foreign organisations who wish to visit the North need to obtain prior clearance from the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. Army Media Spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya at the media briefing said foreign passport holders who intend to visit the war-battered region should inform the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development about the nature of their visit and the area they intend to visit and obtain the ministry’s prior permission to do so. The spokesperson stressed that the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development has taken the decision to restrict foreigner visits to the North following information received by Government intelligence services that certain foreign nationals are engaged in spreading various opinions among different communities in the North to incite public disturbance and conflicts among the civilians, thereby threatening national security. The measure is aimed at preventing foreigners from visiting the North under the pretext of engaging in development projects to rouse communal disharmony among the people, the spokesperson said. During President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s three-day visit to the Northern Province earlier this week the military barred foreigners from entering the North as a temporary security measure. Foreign visitors to the North were turned away from the military checkpoint at Omanthai. Sri Lanka’s military authorities say there is a renewed attempt by the Tamil diaspora supporting the defeated Tamil Tiger terrorist organisation, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), to revive the group in the North to launch another phase of its struggle for a separate state.