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Sri Lankan Military Under Fire

December 24, 1998

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Amnesty International accused the Sri Lankan military and an allied Tamil paramilitary group on Thursday of being responsible for the disappearances of eight civilians in northern Sri Lanka.

The eight Tamil men, including four teenagers, disappeared after being arrested in the Vavuniya district between Oct. 27 and Dec. 21, Amnesty said in a statement.

Six of them are believed to have been abducted by the Peoples’ Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam and two by government troops, Amnesty said.

Both PLOTE and the military denied knowledge of the arrests, although witnesses reported seeing members of PLOTE and the army arresting them.

An Amnesty team visited Vavuniya in October and accused PLOTE of running three torture camps in the area, 150 miles north of the capital, Colombo.

``Amnesty delegates found evidence of severe torture at two places run by the PLOTE in which about 40 prisoners were estimated to be held,″ Amnesty said.

PLOTE, a former guerrilla group that fought the military until 1987 for a homeland for the country’s ethnic Tamil minority, says the camps only house its members and aren’t used to detain people.

PLOTE and five other former rebel groups, all of which accepted promises of more freedom for Tamils within Sri Lanka, are helping the military against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the only group still fighting for a separate homeland.

The missing civilians were refugees from the northern war zone. PLOTE is active in hunting for LTTE infiltrators among the refugees.

More than 56,000 people have been killed in the war.

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