LTTE recruiting more child soldiers: Lankan Govt
The defence ministry in a statement accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of abducting two schoolboys in Batticaloa town.india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 13:24 IST
Sri Lanka on Tuesday accused Tamil Tiger rebels of conscripting more child soldiers despite pledges to end the internationally-condemned practice of enlisting underage combatants.
The defence ministry in a statement accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of abducting two schoolboys in the restive eastern district of Batticaloa on Monday.
"Despite all assurances given by the LTTE, their abduction and conscription spree continues," the ministry said, adding that Scandinavian truce monitors had been informed about the latest abduction.
Last week, the military said two boys below the age of 17 escaped from a Tiger training camp and sought refuge with the navy. The boys have since been placed under the care of an international relief agency, officials said.
The boys said they were kidnapped and forced to undergo gruelling military training.
The LTTE has drawn international condemnation for enlisting boys and girls younger than 18.
The Tigers deny recruiting underage soldiers, but admit some lie about their age to join the movement.
The United Nations children's agency UNICEF has accused the Tigers of recruiting more child soldiers than they freed last year.
Last month UNICEF said more than 5,300 child soldiers had been enlisted by the Tigers since a truce went into effect in February 2002 ending three decades of fighting.
It noted that the rate of child recruitment had slowed in the past six months to an average of 43, from more than 110, a month. Only 79 children had been freed during the same period.
The conflict in the Sinhalese-majority island has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.