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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 19:34 GMT
EU attacks Sri Lanka over rights
Sri Lankan soldier checking identity papers
Sri Lanka's human rights record has come under repeated criticism
The European Union says it has "serious concerns" about reports of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

A six-member delegation, representing a range of EU bodies, released the statement at the end of a three-day visit to the country.

The EU also criticised the Tamil Tiger rebels over alleged rights violations.

Abductions, extra-judicial killings and disappearances have risen in Sri Lanka since the military and rebels resumed attacks on each other in December 2005.

The US state department and New York-based group Human Rights Watch have also recently criticised Sri Lanka's rights record.

"The EU continues to harbour very serious concerns about continuing reports of human rights abuses," said a statement by the EU delegation released on Tuesday.

The delegation included representatives of the EU's current president, Slovenia, and its future president, France, the European Commission and the EU Council of Ministers.

Sri Lanka's government and the Tamil Tiger rebels have yet to comment on the statement.

The rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the island's minority ethnic Tamils after decades of being marginalized by governments controlled by the majority Sinhalese.

The violence has killed more than 70,000 people.

In January the government pulled out of a formal commitment to a 2002 ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers, arguing the rebels had used it to re-group and re-arm.

Since then, fighting has intensified on the frontlines that surround Tiger-held territory in the north.

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