CHENNAI, India, May 20, 2007 (AFP) – Eleven southern Indian fishermen who went missing in March returned at the weekend alleging that they had been abducted at sea and kept captive by Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels. The Tamil Tiger rebels rely on small ships and boats to smuggle black market weapons to the northern part of Sri Lanka under their control. “They took us to a forest area on an island. We begged them to let us go but they threatened we would be shot dead if we tried to escape,” J. Climones, one of the group, told reporters in the southern state of Tamil Nadu Saturday.
Tamil Nadu, India’s most southern state on its west coast, is separated from Sri Lanka by as little as 64 kilometres (40 miles) along the Palk Strait.
“They said they were fighting for a separate Tamil nation and they needed our boat. We were promised freedom within a week but they kept us captive for 68 days,” said Climones.
“Every time there was shelling, shattering our ears, our Tiger guards would tell us to take shelter in bunkers. It was a horrifying experience.”
The fishermen were on the Sri Krishna fishing trawler off Rameswaram, a town from where it is possible to see the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka, when memb