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Wildlife officers concerned over their safety after spat with senior army officer

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By Ifham Nizam

Wildlife officials have sought a meeting with State Ministry secretary, Major General (Rtd) Palitha Fernando to discussed concerns over their personal safety following last week’s incident, where a senior military officer allegedly obstructed their duties and threatened an officer.

“We are worried of reprisals after the altercation with a high-ranking army officer at Habarana”, they said.

Army Commander Shavendra Silva has already appointed a Board of Inquiry to probe the incident. A parallel military police investigation will also be conducted into the incident, the army said.

Two army vehicles had entered the Minneriya National Park and defied an order by wildlife officers to stop. Later, they had given chase to the vehicles and an altercation had ensued at Habarana.

Wildlife officers alleged that the senior military officer had obstructed their duties and threatened one of them with death.

Wildlife officials said one of their men had recorded the incident on his mobile phone.

The army officer, Major General Mohan Ratnayake of the 21 Brigade, who surrendered to the Habarana police on Thursday was arrested and produced before the Kekirawa Magistrate, Saman Kariyawasam Waruniyagoda, who released him on two sureties of Rs. 500,000 each.

Counsel for Maj. Gen. Ratnayake denied allegations that his client obstructed the duties of wildlife officers and threatened them.

“He is a disciplined senior military officer who was in the war front”, the Counsel told court.

After releasing the suspect army officer on bail, the Magistrate ordered him to appear in court again on February 22, 2022.

Both parties had earlier lodged police complaints regarding the incident.



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At least 17 killed after explosion in Peshawar mosque

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(picture from twitter)

BBC reported that at least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast happened when the mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 90 people were injured.

A section of the building was destroyed, and officials say people are buried under the rubble. Several others are being taken to local hospitals.

The cause of the explosion is unclear.

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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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