Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan rebels release hostages

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Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have released two hostages, ending a stand-off that threatened to jeopardise their truce with the Sri Lankan government.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam released a soldier taken hostage in December and a policeman seized more recently after talks with the chief truce monitor, Norwegian army general Trond Furuhovde.

The Tigers had demanded the government free six of their cadres, arrested with 35 claymore mines, in exchange for the policeman and the soldier.

The truce monitors, the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, rejected the demand, calling it 'unacceptable'.

Both the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels accepted the ruling of the monitors, in line with the Norwegian-brokered truce that went into effect in February 2002.

The ceasefire paved the way for negotiations to end three decades of ethnic bloodshed that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

06/03/2003 05:08:43 | ABC Radio Australia News

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