Military: Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels abduct two teenagers in Sri Lanka
Sun March 19, 2006 00:20 EST .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels have abducted two teenagers in troubled eastern Sri Lanka - , the military said Sunday. Sri Lanka - 's military and the U.N. children's agency have repeatedly accused the Tigers of forcing young people to become combatants.
There was no immediate comment Sunday from the rebels, who have fought since 1983 to create a separate homeland for the island country's minority ethnic Tamils, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.
A Norway-brokered 2002 cease-fire has been severely strained by rising violence that the military blames on the Tigers, who deny responsibility.
On Sunday, Samarasinghe reported a separate incident in which Tamils in the eastern village of Wakaneri had complained to the nearest army camp that the Tigers had threatened them to join armed training.
Sri Lanka - 's military has long accused the Tiger of abducting young fighters. The rebels deny the charges, saying rival guerrilla factions are responsible for the abductions.
The Tigers split in 2004, and the mainstream group accuses the army of backing the breakaway faction. The army denies the claim.
On Friday, Sri Lanka - 's military said an underage fighter surrendered to the army after fleeing a rebel camp in the northeastern town of Trincomalee.
``One more schoolboy abducted and subsequently conscripted to the LTTE has managed to flee the (rebel) camp and sought protection from the army camp,'' the military said on its Web site, without giving the teenager's name.
The underage soldier issue figured prominently in government-rebel talks last month in Geneva on ways to preserve the quickly fraying cease-fire.
The talks were the two sides' first direct meeting in nearly three years.
Escalating violence since December has killed about 150 people, including 81 government security personnel. Both sides agreed in Geneva to try to quell the violence, and to meet again in April.
Discuss this story
Published: Sun Mar 19 02:39:53 EST 2006