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Tamil Youths Disappear In Sri Lanka

Tamil Youths Disappear In Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - At least 50 ethnic Tamil youths and young adults have disappeared in Sri Lanka's embattled northern Jaffna district in the last month, a human rights official said Monday.

Thurairaja Surendraraja, the co-ordinator for Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission in Jaffna, told The Associated Press that a total of 67 missing-person complaints were received in August, and the whereabouts of 50 of those people - age 30 and under - are still unknown.

According to complaints received, relatives have said 25 young people disappeared after being arrested by the security forces from their homes and the rest have not returned after leaving homes for various reasons.

Details of 17 people of the 67 complaints have emerged. Some were killed by unknown assailants, some died in refugee camps and some in government custody, Surendraraja said.

Military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said military will cooperate with Human Rights Commission inquiries into any alleged disappearance.

"If the security forces have taken them into custody, the relatives should definitely know the details."

"Of course if someone is found guilty they will be dealt with seriously," Samarasinghe said.

Surendraraja said more than 400 people have disappeared from Jaffna district since December, when hostilities increased between government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

Jaffna Magistrate R.T Viknaraja said it has become impossible to file litigation against alleged human rights violators because people are too scared to testify.

Ends

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