Tamils return to Sri Lanka capital

Move follows court order halting evictions and amid official claims of LTTE losses.

    The police eviction drive was heavily criticised
    by politicians and activists [AFP]

    Rohan Abeywardana, a senior police official, said the other 190 were returned by the government to their home towns.


    Detention camp


    After the police operation on Thursday, the evicted Tamil civilians were taken to a holding centre.


    "We were asked to go back to our villages, but the government dropped us off at a detention camp in Vavuniya"

    Jainthi, Tamil civilian, speaking about her eviction

    "We were asked to go back to our villages, but the government dropped us off at a detention camp in Vavuniya," said Jainthi, a 64-year old woman from Jaffna.


    After being kept in the camp for two days, the Tamils were invited back to the capital by Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka’s president.


    Rajapakse has ordered an investigation into the police action, which was strongly condemned by Sri Lanka's political opposition.


    A senior police officer said the supreme court order prevented him and other police officers repeating their illegal eviction of Tamil civilians.


    Also on Saturday, Sri Lankan troops said they had captured four camps run by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in eastern Sri Lanka.


    The seizure came after two days of fighting that had left at least 30 rebel fighters dead, the military said.


    'Camps destroyed'


    Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe, a military spokesperson, said one army soldier died in the fighting in Thoppigala, an LTTE stronghold in Batticaloa district.


    He said: "We have captured and destroyed four Tamil Tiger camps during battles over the last 48 hours in Batticaloa district."


    Akashi said Japan would would continue to
    send financial aid to Sri Lanka


    The LTTE has fought for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.1 million minority Tamils for the last 24 years.


    More than 70,000 people have died as a result of the conflict.


    In a related development, Japan's peace envoy wrapped up a five-day visit to Sri Lanka on Saturday, saying that Tokyo would continue sending financial aid to the country.


    Yasushi Akashi said: "Our help is for [the] victims themselves and people should not be punished for [the] actions or policies of their leaders."


    He has held meetings with government leaders in an attempt to bring the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE into a dialogue aimed at ending the conflict.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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