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Rebel suspects held in Sri Lanka assassination probe
Updated: 2005-08-29 12:53

Two suspected Tamil Tiger rebels have been arrested on suspicion of helping plan this month's assassination of Sri Lanka's foreign minister, a senior police source said on Monday.

The sniper -- or snipers -- who police say shot dead Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on August 12 in Colombo are still at large. His killing raised fears of a return to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) two-decade war for self rule.

"They are Tamils ... They were assisting the main people," a top Colombo Crime Division source, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

He said the pair, the only two suspects in custody, were suspected Tamil Tiger cadres who had visited senior rebels in their northern stronghold.

"They had been taken to Kilinochchi and met with some LTTE hierarchy. That was some time ago," he said.

"Until we proceed with the investigation and complete it, we can't have them produced in court and they'll be kept under emergency laws for some time," the source said.

Police spokesman Rienzie Perera confirmed two Tamil youths had been arrested, one a gardner, the other a trishaw driver.

The Tigers have denied any responsibility for Kadirgamar's killing, but few in Colombo believe them. Dozens of their opponents have been gunned down since a 2002 ceasefire and analysts say their denial is a stock disclaimer.

The Tigers were not immediately available for comment.

Peace mediator Norway is arranging emergency talks between the age-old foes in a bid to find ways to preserve a 3-1/2-year truce -- the longest period of relative peace since the Tigers began their war for self-rule in earnest in 1983.

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