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May 19, 2009 at 02:01pm IST

Lankan conflict spills over into Australia

Sydney: An acid attack on two Sinhalese students in Sydney allegedly perpetrated by Tamils showed racial tension between Sri Lanka's major ethnic groups had spilled over into Australia, a community leader said Monday.

"It was a Sinhalese house that got broken into by these Tamil extremists," Sinhalese community leader Pryanka Bandara said. "It's definitely racially motivated."

She alleged Australia's Tamils were upset that the 32-year Tamil Tiger insurgency, which some of them had helped bankroll, had failed.

HATE CRIME: The attackers, allegedly Tamilians attacked the Sinhales couple with acid.

"It's their money, it's their hard work, that's getting defeated at the moment," she said.

Meanwhile, 300 Tamils rallied in Canberra to urge the international community to intercede on behalf of any Tamils still trapped by the fighting.

A spokeswoman for the Tamil protesters, Lavinya Theva, said the Sri Lankan government was carrying out a genocide on Tamils.

"We've been protesting all over Canberra, Sydney, all over the world, asking the international community to help our people," she said. "They need to intervene now because the Tamil people cannot be given to the hands of the Sri Lankan government."

Both the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been accused of atrocities in the conflict.

The LTTE was fighting for an independent homeland for the minority Tamils, but after a series of military setbacks after the government vowed at the beginning of 2008 to defeat them militarily, the guerrillas said on Sunday they would lay down their arms.

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