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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 11:48 GMT
Scare shuts Sri Lanka parliament
Security personnel check cars in Colombo
Security has been heightened following violence in past months
The Sri Lankan parliament has been shut down following a security alert shortly after it met on Thursday.

The legislators were immediately evacuated from the premises by security personnel. The parliament has been adjourned until 14 February.

The alert was sounded after sniffer dogs started behaving strangely.

Meanwhile, the government has named a senior minister to hold peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels in Geneva.

Parliament commenced and two minutes later the Speaker adjourned the sittings
Parliament official Neil Iddawela

Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva will lead the five-member team, a government spokesman said.

Last week the government and Tamil Tigers agreed to hold talks in Switzerland later this month to rescue their fragile ceasefire.

Parliament scare

Police said sniffer dogs started behaving strangely and barking at a spot within the parliament during a routine check on Thursday.

Sri Lankan troops patrolling in Colombo
Both sides accuse each other of violating the ceasefire

Although the police found nothing after a thorough check of the premises, the security personnel advised the Speaker, WJM Lokubandara, to vacate the house.

"Parliament commenced and two minutes later the Speaker adjourned the sittings until 14 February, citing the security situation," assistant secretary general of parliament Neil Iddawela told the Associated Press.

Security had been heightened in Sri Lanka following recent violentce which has raised fears that a 2002 ceasefire is close to collapse.

At least 120 people - including about 80 soldiers and sailors and many civilians - have died in the upsurge of violence since early December.

The attacks on the military have been blamed on the rebels, who deny involvement.

Tamil Tiger supporters say more than 40 Tamils have been killed by the security forces in a series of attacks since the start of December. Others blame some of those deaths on the rebels or other armed groups.

More than 60,000 people have died during two decades of conflict in Sri Lanka.




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