Sri Lankan authorities claim rebel arrests in Colombo

By Xinhua

Colombo : The Sri Lankan police said Sunday that 28 people were rounded up in an operation to nab Tamil Tiger rebels in the capital Colombo.

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The move came after the police said it had intensified security measures in the city Saturday.

The arrests were made when the police at Welikada, an eastern Colombo suburb, carried out a raid in the area. There were sudden checks on vehicles entering the city, with additional road checks placed.

The security forces were on the hunt for members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who are said to have arrived in the city.

Last week the police raided temporary lodging houses in Colombo and sent back to the north and east some 300 members of the Tamil community on suspicion of rebel links. After the move was heavily criticized by the international community, opposition parties and human rights groups, the Supreme Court ordered those sent out of the city be brought back.

The government said the move was necessary as the lodges were being used by the rebels to plot attacks in the city.

The government accuses the rebels of attempting to disrupt life in the capital due to frustration in the face of several military defeats.

About 5,000 people have been killed in the upsurge of violence between the government troops and LTTE rebels since the end of 2005.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government, the LTTE is fighting for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's 12.5 percent Tamil minority.