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Sri Lankan police to crack down on eastern armed groups

[Xinhua, Sunday, 5 July 2009 08:46 No Comment]

Sri Lankan police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera said here Sunday that the police would crack down on armed groups operating in the island’s east.

    Gunasekera was referring to Saturday’s end of a deadline for extremist armed groups operating in the eastern Batticaloa and Ampara districts to hand over weapons.

    Officials said some 16 T56 assault rifles and ammunition have been handed over so far.

    The police believe that around 400 fire arms are being held by at least 18 different groups in the two districts.

    "We will strictly apply the policy (eradicating illegal fire arms from the province)," Gunasekera told reporters.

    The decision to set a deadline for arms handing over followed the arrest of some seven people believed to be members of Muslim extremist groups.

    People in the Muslim dominated area of Kathankudy in the Batticaloa district said they were compelled to arm themselves to face the threat from Tamil Tiger rebels, who had been defeated by the government troops.

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