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Sri Lankan Troops Fire on Fleeing War Refugees

By VOA News
27 September 2009

The Sri Lankan military says its soldiers fired on a group of displaced Tamil civilians trying to escape from a government camp in the island's north.

A military spokesman (Udaya Nanayakkara) says people at the Manik Farm camp threw stones at guards while trying to flee Saturday night. He says the troops opened fire in self defense, wounding two people.

The spokesman says 19 people were arrested following the incident.

Nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians have been held in military-run camps after being displaced by fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Sri Lankan government has come intense international pressure to let people leave the camps. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently promised that all of the displaced civilians will be resettled in the next four months.

The Tamil civilians have been held in the camps since government forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May, ending the country's 25-year civil war.

Sri Lankan officials say they must screen the camp detainees to determine if rebel fighters are among the civilians.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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