Sri Lanka

Evicted Tamils to return to Sri Lankan capital

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COLOMBO, Jun 8, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Sri Lankan police said Friday that some 186 minority Tamil civilians who had been sent out of the capital Colombo in a security operation are to be taken back.

The decision came in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling here Friday, restraining the defense authorities from going ahead with their program to evict the members of minority Tamil community from the capital Colombo.

A police source in the northern town of Vavuniya said that some five buses were to leave Vavuniya heading for Colombo late Friday night.

The armed police in a predawn raid Thursday on the temporary lodgings in Colombo where the northeastern Tamils take refuge forced the occupants to go back to Northern and Eastern provinces.

The defense ministry said some 376 people including 85 women were sent in seven buses to the war-torn regions.

Thousands of Tamils from the north and east were reportedly staying in Colombo to find jobs, apply for overseas travel documents, among other reasons.

The defense authorities charged that most explosions carried out by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in Colombo were plotted in these temporary lodgings.

At least two blast targeting military personnel occurred in the city since the end of May, killing nine people and injuring over 40.

Opposition parties and rights groups slammed the move to send Tamils back as discriminatory of the minority Tamil community.

The Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), an independent think tank, sought the court order against the government action.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government, the LTTE has been fighting for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's 12.5 percent Tamil minority since the 1970s.

Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the upsurge of clashes since the end of 2005 despite the Norwegian-back truce in place.