Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka rebels return child soldiers to parents

COLOMBO, Aug 1, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX)

  • Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have returned five underaged soldiers to their parents and 15 others to an education center in the past week, local website Lankapage said Monday.

The Tigers said on their website that all the children joined them voluntarily in Batticaloa, a town 230 km east of the capital Colombo.

It said five children were returned to their parents and another 15, who refused to go home, were sent to a Tiger-run skills development center.

Human rights groups have accused the Tigers of using about 4,000 child soldiers.

The rebels began fighting the government in 1983 to create a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils, claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.

The Tigers claim they have returned 1,445 children to their parents.