Suspected rebels abduct two in eastern Lanka | india | Hindustan Times
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Suspected rebels abduct two in eastern Lanka

india Updated: Jun 26, 2006 16:47 IST

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels have abducted two teenagers in troubled eastern Sri Lanka, the military said on Saturday.

The Tigers have been blamed in the past for abducting young people from Sri Lanka's Tamil minority and using them as fighters -- allegations the insurgents deny.

The latest alleged Tiger abductions came on Friday night, when two teenagers -- identified as Amirthalingam Palakumar, 16, and Thangavel Nimalanathan, 18 -- were snatched from a home in the district of Polonnaruwa, about 215 kms northeast of Colombo, said military spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe.

He said five Tigers forced their way in Palakumar's house and grabbed the two.

There was no immediate comment from the rebels. Sri Lanka's military and the UN children's agency have repeatedly accused the Tigers of forcing young people to become fighters, but the rebels counter that rival guerrilla factions are responsible for the abductions.

The Tigers split in 2004, and the mainstream group accuses the army of backing the breakaway faction.

The army denies the claim. On Thursday, Unicef accused the rebel's breakaway faction of abducting up to 30 children to use as fighters against the Tigers.

The rebels are fighting to carve out a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million largely Hindu Tamils, who have long faced discrimination from the country's Sinhalese majority, most of whom are Buddhist.

At least 65,000 people died in the conflict before a 200 ceasefire.

But a wave of violence in the past four months has undermined the truce and raised fears of a return to war.