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Sri Lankan coast guards seizes Indian vessel with Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim refugees

Colombo: Sri Lankan coastguards have seized an Indian fishing boat and detained two Indians and 30 Rohingya refugees, including 14 children after the vessel illegally entered the country's territorial waters, authorities said on Sunday.

They were detained off the coast of Kankesanturai in the country's northern Jaffna peninsula, the navy said.

"Sri Lankan coast guards were observing the International Maritime Boundary Line. They found this Indian fishing boat with unusually large group of people," navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge said.

The people held include seven men, seven women and 16 children, besides the two Indian crew.

A 15-day-old baby and a four-month-old child were also on board, the official said.

The boat was carrying Myanmar refugees who had fled to India four years ago due to clashes in Myanmar.

The vessel, operated by the two Indians, had entered Sri Lanka's northern waters after crossing the sea border, the officer said.

They were handed over to local authorities to decide further action.

Investigators suspect that the crew were trying to bring the Rohingya illegally to Sri Lanka.

The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state are denied citizenship and face brutal discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.


(c) 2017 First Post

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