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More LTTEers arrested in Canada

CANADA: Three Canadian residents accused of supporting Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were arrested this week at the cusp of a joint Canada-US anti-terror sweep and face extradition to the United States, police said yesterday.

Ottawa and Washington brand the movement a foreign terrorist organisation.

A total 11 suspects, including six Canadians, were nabbed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in both countries for trying to buy illegal weapons and other alleged crimes.

The last three Canadian suspects to be arrested were picked up by police in the Toronto area Monday through Wednesday, RCMP Sergeant Michele Paradis told AFP.

"Over the last several weeks, the RCMP and the FBI have collaborated on an operation directed at the efforts of individuals, Canadians among them, who allegedly conspired to procure weapons on behalf of the Tigers for its ongoing war against the Sri Lankan Government," Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said in a statement.

"Our Government considers the Tigers a terrorist organisation and was quick to take action when we added them to the list of terrorist entities in April," he said.

US authorities unveiled Monday charges against eight suspects accused of supporting the LTTE. Some of them had met with its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, officials said.

Four suspects were arrested Saturday after trying to purchase surface-to-air missiles and AK-47 automatic assault rifles from an undercover police agent posing as a weapons dealer, the US district attorney in Brooklyn, Roslynn Mauskopf, said in a statement.

Other charges against multiple defendants include providing material support to the LTTE by fund raising and money laundering through sham charities, and trying to bribe US officials in a bid to remove the LTTE from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.

On Thursday, the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) moved to distance itself from the accused. Kavitha Pathinathar said on behalf of the CTC: "In the strongest of terms possible, we categorically condemn this isolated incident."

AFP

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