In Pictures: Sri Lanka opens Tamil rail ties - Al Jazeera English

In Pictures: Sri Lanka opens Tamil rail ties

Northern rail line, which will connect Jaffna to capital Colombo, reopens nearly 24 years after civil war shut it down.

Dinouk Colombage | | Asia, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka will reopen its northern rail line that will connect the city of Jaffna to the capital, Colombo, nearly a quarter of century after a bloody civil war shut it down.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will formally inaugurate the rail services along the 358km route on Monday.

The "Queen of Jaffna", a once-popular train linking the Tamil-majority north to the rest of the island nation, stopped its operation in 1990, after it came under attack by the Tamil rebels who wanted a separate homeland for the minority community.

The railway tracks and Jaffna station were damaged during the war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government forces.

With an $800m loan from India, the Sri Lankan government began rebuilding nearly two years after the conflict ended in 2009.

More than a million Tamils living in Jaffna, which was first connected to the rest of the Sinhalese-majority island through a rail link in 1905 under British colonial rule, hope to get reconnected to the rest of the country.

Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Transport Rohana Dissanayake welcomed the opening of the railway line. "The people of the north and south are once again reconnected after years of civil war," he said.

Residents of Jaffna have greeted the news of the opening with cautious optimism, saying that after two decades family members who fled the fighting will be able to return to see relatives who stayed behind.

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