20 child soldiers released in Lanka: LTTE
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said that all the 20 combatants had lied about their ages in order to join the insurgency.india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 11:26 IST
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels said on Wednesday they have released 20 combatants who had lied about their ages in order to join the insurgency, hoping to ease UN criticism that they forcibly recruit children under 18 to fight in their war.
"This release is part of a process taken up by us to ensure that underage youths who voluntarily join the LTTE are sent back to their parents," Spokesperson Daya Master said via phone from Kilinochchi, a stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Master said the children were handed over to their parents at a ceremony in the rebel-held area on Tuesday after a three-member committee had singled out members from the group who are under age.
The rebels and government negotiators met in Geneva, Switzerland at the end of February -- the first direct talks between the two sides in three years -- and agreed to meet again on April 19-21, again in Geneva, to salvage their tattered ceasefire.