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Tamil protesters block bridge near UK Parliament

[AP, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 11:39 No Comment]

Hundreds of protesters demanding Sri Lanka halt its military assault in Tamil areas of the Indian Ocean island blocked a major bridge beside London’s Parliament overnight, police said Tuesday.


Several thousand demonstrators had gathered Monday to draw attention to the situation in Sri Lanka, where the U.N. estimates up to 190,000 people are trapped in the war zone, with dozens dying every day.


London police moved the protest Tuesday to an area in front of Parliament, and arrested four people for public order offenses. Two people wdere pulled from the River Thames after jumping in.


"Members of my family, some of our grandparents, are stuck in an area in the northeast of Sri Lanka which has been bombed intensively for the last two months," said protester Vijay Mahalingam, 28. "There is no phone contact, and every day we just hope they have not been harmed."


Sri Lankan troops are trying to defeat Tamil Tiger rebels fighting to carve out an independent state on the island, off the southeast coast of India.


The Sri Lankan government has rejected international calls for a cease-fire, and says it is on the verge of defeating the rebels.


Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there should be a humanitarian cease-fire to allow civilians to leave the danger zone.

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