The Sri Lanka army has said that it would reduce the number of military camps in the former rebel stronghold of northern Jaffna and hand over lands back to their original owners.

“We will reduce the existing 17 military camps in Jaffna to just three,” Army chief Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya said.

The fourteen camps pulled out from different parts of Jaffna would be relocated in the main Palaly cantonment, he said on Tuesday.

Lands on which the camps were located would be handed back to their original owners and lands that would be difficult to be handed back due to national security considerations would be subject to compensation, he said.

Sri Lanka has come under international pressure for de-escalation of the military presence in Jaffna which is considered crucial to achieving reconciliation with the Tamil minority.

The international rights watch groups claim that a large military presence in the north since the end to the war with the LTTE in 2009 clamped the civilian life in the former conflict regions.