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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 04:37 GMT 05:37 UK
US holds Sri Lanka arms suspects
Tamil Tigers
There has been fierce fighting in Sri Lanka recently
Police in the United States say they have arrested a number of people on suspicion of conspiring to buy arms for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels.

The men are accused of conspiring to buy surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles for the rebels.

Some of the arrested are also accused of seeking to bribe US officials to have the rebel movement removed from the US list of terrorist organisations.

The police said the arrests were made in sting operations across the US.

The charges also include using charities sympathetic to the rebels as a front for money-laundering and fund-raising.

The rebels denied the allegations. Spokesman Rasaiah Ilanthirayan told the BBC that the Tamil Tigers had no connection with the accused in the court case.

Tamil Tiger separatist rebels have been engaged in an increasingly violent conflict with government forces in the north and east of Sri Lanka, despite a ceasefire agreed four years ago.

The ceasefire is aimed at halting more than two decades of war between the government and the rebels, who are fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east.

The truce remains officially in effect, despite months of violence.

The Sri Lankan authorities say at least 100 soldiers have died in the recent fighting while it is unclear how many rebels have died.

Sri Lanka's undeclared war is being conducted on three fronts, with air raids, artillery strikes and mortar attacks.

About 100,000 people have now been affected by three weeks of hostilities.

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