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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Hunt for Sri Lankan deserters

The security forces in Sri Lanka say they are increasing efforts to track down 25,000 members of the military who have deserted rather than continue fighting Tamil Tiger rebels.

The deputy defence minister, Anuruddha Ratwatte, said it was vital to get the deserters back to boost the government's battle against the Tiger rebels.

In recent years the Sri Lankan army has declared more than a dozen amnesties to encourage deserters to turn themselves in.

Despite being much larger than the Tiger force it has recently suffered a series of heavy defeats although the Tiger advance now appears to have stalled.

More than 60,000 people have been killed since war broke out 17 years ago.

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