2nd January 2000
Triplets for the third millennium: perhaps the world’s first triplets of the third millennium were photographed by our photojournalist Gemunu Wellage at the Castle Street Maternity Hospital soon after the millennium dawn with their proud teenage mother Iresha saying the family is thrilled to be part of her historic moment.
Top secret report blames senior officers for security lapses at Town Hall
By Leon Berenger
At least 10 senior police officers have been held responsible for a serious breach of security that led to the abortive LTTE bomb attack on President Chandrika Kumaratunga at the Town Hall rally, a senior investigator said.
The names of these officers have been included in a 'top secret' interim report handed over to the Defence Ministry with recommendations on how to spruce-up security for future meetings, Chief Investigator Indra de Silva told The Sunday Times.
"A suicide bomber could strike anywhere, but then there is the security to try and prevent it. In this case, there was a serious breach of security and there are people who should be held responsible. We are not talking about constables on the beat but very senior and experienced men," DIG de Silva said.
He said action to be taken against those responsible for the lapse would be recommended in a later report, but he gave no further details.
Among those yet to be questioned over the December 18 horror are about ten senior PSD officers who had accompanied President Kumaratunga to Britain for medical treatment, the DIG said. The Special Police Probe Unit in the Ja-ela case has suggested that in future, the venue of all major political meetings should be decided by the Officer-In-Charge who would give priority to security factors.
"For the fateful December 18 meeting, the UNP had first sought permission to have it at a playground. But this was not allowed, allegedly due to political considerations and the party then chose a less secure venue. Owing to petty political interference, and the outcome is only too well known," he said.
An investigator said all parties should be given equal security with public safety getting high priority, unlike the Ja-ela meeting where minimal security allowed the suicide bomber to move freely.
By Faraza Farook
A 16-year-old village girl became a historic mother when she gave birth to triplets soon after the millennium dawned at Sri Lanka's main maternity hospital — with doctors claiming they could be the world's first triplets of the third millennium.
The teenage mother, Iresha Dilrukshi, and the triplets, all girls, were in a good condition, doctors at the Castle Street Maternity Hospital said as billions of people all over the world boomed in the new year and the new millennium.
The tryst with millennium destiny took shape when Iresha developed labour complications at the Kalutara hospital and was rushed for special treatment at Colombo's main maternity hospital where a caesarean operation was done at the historic moment.
Bubbling with joy after the tense and sometimes fearful days, Iresha said she and her 25-year-old labourer husband, Mahendra, who were married on January 13 last year, did not earn much but they were confident of being able to give the best to their millennium triplets.
The triplets were born at 12.51, 12.52 and 12.53 a.m — in the first hour of the third millennium. They weighed 2.05 Kg, 1.95 Kg and 1.9 Kg.
Paediatricians of the Premature Baby Unit where the babies are being tenderly cared for, said the triplets were in good condition. Dr. P.A. Denagama said the delivery had been scheduled for February but when complications developed, they decided on a Caesarean because they feared the child might not have survived if a normal birth was allowed.
At the De Soysa Maternity Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka's first baby for the millennium was born a minute after the millennium dawn. This historic boy was born to Dayani Soysa who was thrilled about the millennium spotlight that fell on her new baby — the third for her.
Reports of the arrest of 38 suspected Sri Lankan Muslim extremists who are allegedly heading for war-torn Chechnya are being checked by the Foreign Ministry, an official said.
Spokesman Ravinatha Ariyasinghe said he could not confirm or deny anything till information was received from the Sri Lankan mission in Moscow.
Russian troops have been at war with Islamic guerrillas for the past few months with a showdown known to be building up in the capital Grozny.
An AFP report quoting the Itar-Tass news agency said the Lankans carrying false papers, were arrested at Astrakhan airport in Russia.
According to the report, the Sri Lankans, in their 20s, had come from the United Arab Emirates and planned to go to Dagestan, the republic neighbouring Chchnya.
The Chechen Islamist rebels have been fighting Russian troops in Chechnya for four months receiving help from several Muslim countries including the United Arab Emirates.
It is suspected that this group of Lankans too had entered Russia with a similar intention, the report said.
Fighting continued between the LTTE and security forces into the new year with reports of mounting casualties from both sides and tension among civilians in the Jaffna peninsula.
More than 30 LTTE guerillas and eight government security force personnel were killed on new year's eve in the Jaffna peninsula, Vavuniya and Wanni regions, the Defence Ministry said.
Fighting was reported from the Iyakachchi and the general area around Elephant Pass.
The LTTE made two attempts to breach the southern and western defences of the Elephant Pass camps, but troops repulsed the attack.
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