Escape bid by Sri Lanka war refugees thwarted

September 27, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops opened fire to prevent dozens of war-displaced civilians from escaping a refugee camp where they have been detained in the island’s north, the military said Sunday. Inmates at the Manik farm camp pelted stones at soldiers and tried to break free on Saturday night, military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.

“The army fired in self-defence,” he said. “These people were throwing stones and were trying to escape.”

Local police said at least three people suffered gunshot injuries.

Around 250,000 people displaced by fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger separatists have been held in the state-run camps since the rebels were finally defeated in May.

The Sri Lankan government has been widely criticised for holding the inmates indefinitely, but it insists it needs more time to weed out Tiger fighters mingling with the displaced civilians.

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