Unidentified gunmen abducted four young children and another man in eastern Sri Lanka, a pro-LTTE website reported on Wednesday, as the UN accused security forces of forcibly recruiting child soldiers.
The pro-rebel website — Tamilnet.com — said the four students from families below the poverty line had been employed on a road construction project to supplement the incomes of their parents.
The gunmen took away the four boys and another person who was visiting them at the work site on Tuesday.
A complaint was lodged with the police and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Red Cross neither confirmed nor denied that they received the complaints.
The incident came a day after the UN accused the security forces of recruiting children on behalf of a breakaway faction of Tamil rebels in the island's eastern districts of Batticaloa and Amparai.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's office on Tuesday said he had assured the special advisor to the UN Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock, that the charges made by him will be investigated.
Although the president agreed to investigate, the army had already rejected the allegation and denied any involvement "whatsoever" with the Karuna faction.