`Asylum boats cannot breach Sri Lanka border`

Last Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012 - 15:38

Colombo: The Sri Lankan Navy on Friday insisted that security along the maritime boundary of the island nation remains tight and there is no possibility of any asylum boat heading to Australia directly from Sri Lanka undetected.

Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told Xinhua that despite the end of a 30-year war with the Tamil Tiger rebels three years ago and the relaxing of several restrictions on fishing in some areas, the Navy still remains on guard.

Earlier on Thursday, Australian authorities claimed that a boat with some 200 asylum seekers on board capsized near Christmas Island closer to Indonesia and that the boat had originated from Sri Lanka.

"There is no chance of that happening. We maintain tight security along our maritime boundary so no boat can slip through," Warnakulasuriya said.

The Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry on Friday said that based on preliminary reports there were no Sri Lankans on board the ship which capsized the previous day.

The Sri Lankan embassy in Indonesia also said that there were no Sri Lankans among the 110 survivors who were rescued from the vessel.

Australian Home Minister Jason Clare on Friday told reporters that according to information he had received, those on board the vessel were mostly Afghan nationals.

Sri Lanka and Australia have an agreement on combating human smuggling after hundreds of Sri Lankans had reached Australia by boat over the past several years seeking asylum.

The Sri Lankan police last month arrested 113 people while they were attempting to go to Australia by boat illegally, and earlier this month the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 53 illegal asylum seekers who were also heading to Australia.

ANI



First Published: Friday, June 22, 2012 - 15:38

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