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Sri Lanka arrests Tamil politician over human smuggling

07-25-2012 15:47 BJT

COLOMBO, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The police in Sri Lanka on Wednesday arrested a Tamil politician and another suspect over a human smuggling operation.

Police media spokesman Ajith Rohana told Xinhua the Tamil politician is a member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and is a candidate for the local council elections in the east scheduled for September.

"Over the past few days there were reports of attempts by people to go overseas by boat illegally. We had reported how the Tamil diaspora may also be involved in human smuggling and that has now been confirmed with the arrest of the tow key suspects," the police spokesman said.

He said that the two suspects were believed to have been involved in attempts to send several Tamils to Australia by boat.

The two suspects were arrested from the eastern town of Trincomalee where several attempts were made in the recent days by asylum seekers to head to Australia by boat.

Rohana said that the suspects had taken money from the Tamils to send them overseas through illegal means.

He said that they are looking for more suspects who are alleged to be involved in the human smuggling racket.

Last week government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that the government suspected the rise in human smuggling attempts were part of an organized attempt by interested groups to tarnish the country's image.

Despite the risks of being caught by Sri Lankan authorities or perishing during their journey, many continue to risk their lives in exchange to reach Australia by boat.

According to the Australian media over 1,300 Sri Lankans illegally reached Australia by boat since January 2012.

The Sri Lankan navy and the police have meanwhile arrested hundreds of others over the past several weeks as they attempted to make the treacherous journey by boat.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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