Govt orders Tamils in Colombo to register with cops

Colombo, September 18:

Sri Lankan authorities today ordered tens of thousands of ethnic Tamils living in Colombo to register with police as fighting in the country’s civil war grew fiercer.

Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera announced that every Sri Lankan who came to Colombo from the north in the past five years would have to re-register with police in a mass registration drive on Sunday at police stations and other designated centres across the city.

“We will not harass people, but we will request, ‘Please come,”’ Gunasekera said, adding that the exercise was simply an effort by authorities to update their records. He did not say what would happen to those who fail to register.

The order will affect more than 100,000 people who came from the districts of Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaittivu. The overwhelming majority of those people are ethnic Tamils.

Ethnic Tamils living in the capital have complained of frequent police raids, harassment and arbitrary detentions as the fighting between government forces, dominated by the ethnic Sinhalese majority, and the Tamil Tigers escalated in recent years.

Authorities have long accused rebel sleeper agents of hiding amid the Tamil community in Colombo.

Mano Ganesan, a Tamil lawmaker from Colombo, said there would not be enough time to

register everyone in one day and few will be able to produce the required documents from

government agents in their faraway home districts. Those unable to register will likely be

expelled from the city, he said.

“We will not allow it. We will fight against it, but that is their plan,” he said.

As the fighting has intensified in recent months, Tamil Tiger rebels have been blamed for a series of deadly attacks on buses, trains and other targets in the capital of Colombo and other towns that have killed scores of civilians far from the war zone.

Authorities established a maze of roadblocks and checkpoints and continuously changed traffic patterns in Colombo in an effort to prevent new attacks. They have also required all residents of the north to register with the police upon their arrival in the city.

25 Tigers killed:

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military said naval forces have sunk 10 Tamil Tiger boats and killed at least 25 rebel sailors in a major sea battle off the country’s northwest. The military said the battle started about 11 am on Thursday off the coast at Nachchikuda and lasted until about 3:30 pm. Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said naval forces sank seven small boats belonging to the Tamil Tigers’ naval wing and three medium-sized boats. The battle comes amid a resurgent government offensive that has forced the rebels to retreat from large areas that had been under their control. — AP