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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 14:42 GMT
Police held over S Lanka kidnaps
Police at the scene of the Anuradhapura murders [photo by Athula Bandara]
Most of the victims of abductions have been from the Tamil minority
A senior police officer has said that serving and former police and security force personnel have been arrested over abductions in Sri Lanka.

His statement at a media briefing came on the same day as the bullet-riddled bodies of five people were found in a field in the north of the country.

Their remains were burned beyond recognition, according to police in the north-central district of Anuradhapura.

It follows the discovery of five other bodies near the capital on Saturday.

Found by a member of the public in a swamp near Colombo, they were the victims of execution-style killings, police said.

Kidnappings

At a media briefing attended by Sri Lanka's police chief, Deputy Inspector General of Police Ashoka Wijethileka said former soldiers, serving soldiers and police officers were among those arrested in connection with abductions.

Police in Sri Lanka conduct a body search
Both sides have been accused of abductions

"The magnitude of the problem is yet to be assessed. But the fact remains there are a few groups like this operating," he said.

"Some of them including ex-soldiers, serving soldiers, police officers, underworld gangs and other organised elements have been arrested.

"But that does not mean we have fully and completely investigated the whole thing."

There have been an increasing number of kidnappings in Sri Lanka as the country has slid back towards a full-scale war.

Correspondents say that some of these have been kidnappings for ransom, and others have been kidnappings carried out to commit politically motivated murders.

According to the Civil Monitoring Commission, which campaigns for investigations, there have been 100 cases in the past 12 months in areas of the country controlled by the government - and far more in rebel-held areas.

Most of the victims have been members of the minority Tamil community.




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