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Lankan president cuts short Nepal visit
KATHmANDU, Mar 3 (Agencies):
Published on 3 Mar. 2009 10:41 PM IST
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The attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Pakistan’s Lahore city Tuesday morning, in which gunmen killed at least five policemen and injured six cricketers, had repercussions at the top-most level of the island nation with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa cutting short his Nepal visit. Rajapaksa, who had arrived in Kathmandu on a three-day state visit Monday amidst unprecedented security, cancelled his proposed trip to Lumbini in southern Nepal Wednesday to return to Colombo Tuesday evening. Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, who had accompanied the 63-year-old, told journalists in Kathmandu Tuesday that the president was returning home a day ahead in view of the attack near Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The Lankan foreign minister, whose government has been fighting a deadly insurgency for nearly three decades, said Sri Lanka was condemning the attack on its cricket team, just as it condemned all terrorist attacks. The decision was taken after Rajapaksa met Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda in the latter’s office Tuesday morning. The president had completed his visit to the Anand Kutty monastery in Kathmandu when the news came that nearly a dozen gunmen had fired at the Lankan cricket team on its way to the Gaddafi Stadium, where it was playing the second test match against host Pakistan. Rajapaksa, the first head of a foreign government to visit Nepal since 2002, however kept his schedule to visit the SAARC Secretariat in the Nepali capital. Sri Lanka is the current chairman of the regional grouping. He will also attend a luncheon hosted by Prachanda at the five-star Yak and Yeti hotel before flight of national carrier Sri Lankan. The presidential delegation, that included Sri Lanka’s First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa and Minister for Export Development and International Trade G L Peiris, was accorded unprecedented security with a cordon of nearly 1500 security personnel chosen from police, army and armed police forces. Traffic police had been instructed to divert or halt all traffic along the routes to be taken by the presidential motorcade.

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