Italian police arrest 33 Tamils on terror charges

ROME, June 18, 2008 (AFP) – Italian police Wednesday arrested 33 Sri Lankan Tamils charged with belonging to the outlawed Tamil Tigers group fighting a separatist insurgency against the government in Colombo, an official said. Twenty-eight people were arrested in a series of raids on the mainland, suspected of membership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and of providing funding for the group, an official with the police counter-terrorism cell in Naples who coordinated the raids, told AFP.

Five other Tamils were detained by authorities in Palermo, Sicily, also on suspicion of belonging to LTTE, in a separate police operation, the official, Antonio Sbordone, said.

Some 200 police were involved in the operation which saw raids across the country from Naples in the south to Bologna in the north, and also on the island of Sicily.

The LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union. The Tigers have been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka since 1972. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict.