Sri Lankan police have nabbed as many as 60 persons on charges of harbouring terrorists.
The arrests come in the wake of the Sri Lankan government expressing fear of a possible regrouping of the rebel Tigers defeated by its armed forces in May 2009.
Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana told The Hindu on Thursday that the arrests were made in a span of two months, under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). “We are questioning them in order to ensure that there is no resumption of war in this country,” he said.
Almost all the arrested suspects are residents of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking Northern Province, the heavily militarised former war zone of the country.
The arrests, Mr. Rohana said, were also in connection with the police’s search for three main suspects allegedly involved in mobilising funds and carrying out activities that pose a threat to the security of the country. The 60 suspects — 50 men and 10 women — were held at detention centres Boossa, near Galle in the south, and another in Vavuniya.
Last month, the Sri Lankan police arrested prominent human rights activist Ruki Fernando and Catholic priest Father Praveen in Kilinochchi under the PTA, while they were reportedly engaged in a fact-finding exercise.
They were, however, released in a couple of days after several international rights organisations took up the issue.
The incident also drew attention in Geneva, where the Human Rights Council recently adopted a U.S.-backed resolution against Sri Lanka.