The government today released over 745 former Tamil Tiger guerrillas, including child soldiers, in Sri Lanka's Vavuniya district where they have been housed after the end of a decades old civil war.
At a special function in Vavuniya's Menik Farm welfare village, which houses over 80,000 Internally Displaced Persons
(IDPs), President Mahinda Rajapaksa released over 745 former LTTE cadres.
The ex-combatants, including LTTE child soldiers, returned to their parents after rehabilitation and assurance
of employment. Over 300 of them were from the rehabilitation centre at Welikanda, 65 kilometres northwest of Batticaloa and
Ambepussa in the country's Central Province.
According to the Island newspaper, there were 98 children among those released. It quoted sources as saying
that the authorities were looking at the possibility of releasing more detainees to facilitate their return to
The government has stepped up efforts to rehabilitate more than 11,000 LTTE cadres with help from civil society,
corporates besides the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and USAID. The detainees have undergone
orientation courses to facilitate their rehabilitation, including helping them find employment.
As the country prepares for the landmark presidential election on January 26, Rajapaksa and his former army chief
Sarath Fonseka are locked in a tough battle that has forced them to woo the Tamil community. Restrictions on travel in
Tamil areas have been eased, tens of thousands of displaced civilians released from detention camps and both candidates have promised more concessions to the community.