S Lanka nabs 1 500 Tiger suspects

2010-08-03 19:06

Colombo - Sri Lankan troops arrested over 1 500 Tamil rebel suspects during July, more than a year after the separatist guerrilla group was crushed militarily, the prime minister said on Tuesday.

About half of the suspects were picked up at government-run shelters where they had taken refuge after the fighting ended in May last year, Premier D M Jayaratne told parliament during a debate to extend a state of emergency.

"We need to maintain emergency laws to ensure the safety and security of the nation," the premier told parliament.

Sri Lanka has resisted international calls to end the state of emergency, saying that Tiger remnants were trying to regroup and resume their armed campaign for an independent homeland for the island's ethnic Tamil minority.

Jayaratne said the government continued to receive information about Tigers trying to collect weapons and regroup.

The United Nations estimate that up to 100 000 people died in the Tigers' independence bid from 1972 until May last year.

The Tigers have launched no attacks since being defeated, but the government maintains tough anti-terror laws which are extended every month by parliament.

The opposition accuses the government of using the emergency laws to stifle political dissent.

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