28 underage combatants discharged: LTTE
The action came after UNICEF complained on Tuesday that the insurgents were still recruiting children despite pledges to stop.india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 14:31 IST
The Tamil Tigers rebels said on Wednesday that they have discharged 28 volunteers after learning they were below 18 years of age.
The action came after UNICEF complained on Tuesday that the insurgents were still recruiting children despite pledges to stop.
The youths were either returned to their parents or joined a rebel-run rehabilitation center, said senior rebel leader Seevaratnam Puleedevan, who heads the insurgents' peace secretariat.
The releases were made in January after a three-member committee appointed by the rebels found that the underage youths had joined the Tamil Tigers after providing false information about their ages, Puleedevan said.
"Of particular importance remains the unresolved situation of child recruitment, which led UNICEF to yet again appeal to LTTE to cease the recruitment of children and to release all children within its ranks," the children agency said in a statement.
The UNICEF said that 5,368 child recruitment cases have been reported since 2002, the year when the government and the Tigers agreed to a Norway-brokered ceasefire.