Sixth Indian Tamil self-immolates over Sri Lanka war

CHENNAI, February 22, 2009 (AFP) – An ethnic Tamil activist committed suicide by setting himself on fire in protest against the war in Sri Lanka, Indian police said on Sunday. Siva Prakasam, 55, set himself ablaze during an anti-war rally on Saturday in Chennai, capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a police spokesman told AFP.

He became the sixth ethnic Tamil to commit suicide in the state in less than a month, the spokesman said.

Tamil Nadu, separated from Sri Lanka by a strip of sea, is also home to thousands of Sri Lankan war refugees.

The state is pressuring New Delhi to force Colombo to call off its military campaign against Tamil Tigers rebels.

The Sri Lankan army claims to have driven back the Tamil rebels into 73 square kilometres (28 square miles) of jungles following weeks of fighting in the island’s north.

India as well as international aid agencies have expressed concern over the plight of thousands of Sri Lanka’s Tamil civilians reportedly trapped in the war zone.