Sri Lanka arrests 16 Indian fishermen

fishing     The Sri Lankas Navy said on  it had detained 16 Indian fishermen on a charge of poaching, as tensions rose between India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu and Colombo.

The fishermen in three trawlers were arrested  Saturday night inside Sri Lankan waters off the west coast and handed over to local police for further investigation, a navy spokesman spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya  said.”We had information that they were poaching in that area in the past three days and we sent additional patrol craft to arrest them”.He said another 37 Indians had been arrested in December off the island’s east coast.

The latest arrests came amid rising tensions between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, whose minority Tamils have close cultural and religious ties with Tamils in India.

Tamil Nadu last week asked Sri Lankan Catholic pilgrims to return home as local residents turned hostile towards them. Several other groups of pilgrims had been stoned and forced to leave recently.Tamil Nadu politicians have also criticised the government for its treatment of ethnic Tamils.

Sri Lankan fishermen were barred from operating along the Palk Strait, when troops battled Tamil Tiger rebels.They have been allowed to return to the strait since the ethnic war ended in May 2009 with the crushing of Tamil Tiger guerrillas, who were given safe haven in Tamil Nadu.

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