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Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 15:01 UK

US travel advice upsets Sri Lanka

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

A Sri Lankan soldier stand guard beside a banner, showing a photograph of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse (R in banner) with his Defence Secretary and brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse (C) and Sri Lankan Army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka (L), in Colombo on May 19, 2009
Although the war is over, the US says that Sri Lanka remains dangerous

The Sri Lankan government has dismissed a travel advisory issued by the United States warning its citizens of possible dangers when visiting the country.

Sri Lanka's defence spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, described last week's travel advisory as "totally baseless".

The government said that some Tamil Tiger rebels were still at large but that they posed no threat.

In May Sri Lanka's army defeated Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for a separate homeland for the ethnic Tamil minority.

The warning from Washington said that despite the government's announcement of victory in its war, the island remained vulnerable to attacks from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) remnants and even a renewed insurgency.

It said that there were landmines and armed paramilitaries in the east and the north and that the Sri Lankan government was encouraging people to report foreigners if they found their activity suspect.

Mr Rambukwella said that the foreign secretary had written a very strong letter in response to the travel warning.

When asked about continuing reports of LTTE operatives being arrested and sometimes killed, Mr Rambukwella said that there were still quite a few at large but not in any numbers to cause alarm.

He said that hard core of LTTE who had surrendered or been captured would be treated strictly.

But a greater number of former rebels he said would be rehabilitated, as they might have been associated with the group against their will.

He said that some could be viewed as innocent victims.

The government is still detaining about 300,000 people displaced by the war in camps and screening them for possible LTTE links.



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