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Government hands Colombo’s security over to army

December 10, 1997

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The army has been placed in charge of security in Sri Lanka’s capital following recent attacks by rebels, according to news reports said today.

The Island newspaper said Maj. Gen. Jalia Nammuni, the army’s No. 4 officer, will be in charge. Nammuni’s appointment may be intended to strengthen coordination _ the army, navy, air force and police all play a role in the capital’s defense.

The police will remain in charge of controlling ordinary crime.

Rebels fighting for an independent homeland for the minority Tamils have attacked Colombo twice in the past two months. In October they bombed the city center and a month later penetrated a high-security power station, setting it on fire.

The rebels, accusing the majority Sinhalese of discriminating against ethnic Tamils, took up arms after anti-Tamil riots swept Colombo in 1983. The insurrection is primarily limited to the north and east of the Indian Ocean island.

Tamils account for 25 percent of Colombo’s population of 1.4 million. Nationwide, they make up 18 percent of Sri Lanka’s 18 million people.

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