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136 Indian fishermen released by Sri Lanka

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Feb 18, IRNA -- Sri Lanka on Friday released all 136 Indian fishermen who were apprehended for allegedly poaching in this country's waters, a day after India conveyed its deep concern over their detention and sought their release.

The Indian fishermen along with their boats were released by Sri Lankan authorities after a court order.

They will be escorted to Indian maritime border by the Sri Lankan Navy later this afternoon, pti reported quoting Sri Lankan defence official as saying.

The move followed a high-level meeting between the Sri Lankan defence official and Indian diplomats in Colombo.

Out of the 136 Indian fishermen, 112 were caught last Tuesday by a group of local fishermen and handed over to the police there.

Reacting to the incident, India on Thursday conveyed its 'deep concern' over the detention of fishermen and asked the Sri Lankan government to take 'necessary' steps to get them released.

'I have just had a telephonic conversation with the Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka (G L Peiris) and I have conveyed India's deep concern at the detention of nearly 136 fishermen in Jaffna district,' External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had said in New Delhi.

'I have also conveyed my deep regret that Sri Lankan nationals and Sri Lankan fishermen have taken law into their own hands and confronted our fishermen,' Krishna said.

The arrests had triggered protests in Tamil Nadu where over 5,000 DMK workers, including party MPs Kanimozhi and T K S Elangovan, had been arrested when they tried to take out a rally to the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission.

India had last month accused the Sri Lankan Navy of killing at least two Indian fishermen.

This had triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity between the two south Asian neighbours following which Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Colombo to seek assurances to prevent such incidents in future.

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