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Lanka drives Tamils out of Colombo

ibnlive.com
Jun 08, 2007 at 01:17pm IST

New Delhi: Sri Lanka's police on Thursday sent back more than 300 Tamils staying in Colombo to their home regions in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The forced eviction of minority Tamils from the capital is part of a crackdown against LTTE suspects, said officials.

Tamil men, women and children, who had taken shelter at low-budget hostels were forced out of their rooms, ordered into buses and driven off under armed escorts, residents said.

SECURITY DRILL: Many Tamils complain they are being deliberately targeted by the security forces.

Officials say 291 men and 85 women were sent in seven buses, six of which are heading towards the northern district of Vavuniya and one busload to the eastern district of Batticaloa.

The northern Sri Lankan district of Vavuniya is now the front line of renewed clashes between the Army and LTTE.

The move followed an announcement by police Inspector General Victor Perera last week that Tamils "loitering" in Colombo were a threat to national security and that they will be given transport to return to their villagers.

The Tamils could not explain why they were living in Colombo and thus were sent back home by special buses, said an official.

The government blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for bomb attacks in and around the capital last week.

The national parliament was in uproar over the forced eviction with ethnic Tamil MPs disrupting proceedings to protest the police action, officials said.

"Tamil MP's were protesting against the police forcibly taking away the Tamils in buses," a parliamentary official said. The proceedings were suspended and party leaders went in for an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis.

Many Tamils complain they are being deliberately targeted by the security forces, detained and searched.

Rights groups have reported hundreds of abductions and disappearances blamed on both government and LTTE sides.

The government has also tightened restrictions on Tamils leaving the north-east and travelling to the rest of the country.

Authorities say no heavy vehicle will be allowed to travel out of the northern and eastern regions to the rest of the country in a bid to prevent bomb attacks.

The move followed the discovery of over 1,000 kg of explosives in a truck last week.

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