British Tsunami Relief Contained Bomb Materials Claims Army
The Sri Lankan military accused a relief group today of trying to smuggle bomb-making materials hidden in goods - probably sent from Britain - intended for tsunami survivors in areas controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels.
Port authorities found thousands of small steel balls hidden in water pots in a shipping container that consigned to the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation, the army reported.
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought a two decade civil war against the government, are known for loading suicide bombs with metal balls to cause maximum damage.
The rebels control a large area in the ethnic Tamil-majority north and have authorised the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation to co-ordinate tsunami relief work there.
The military website said the balls "could be used for production of bombs or explosives."
The report said the pots, believed to have been shipped from Britain, are being held for investigation.
A spokesman for the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation said it would comment only after seeing the military's report.
More than 65,000 people have been killed since Tamil Tigers began an armed insurrection in 1983 to carve out a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. Fighting ended with a Norway-brokered cease-fire signed in February 2002.
Peace talks however, broke down a year later when the rebels withdrew, demanding more autonomy in the north-east.
The Boxing Day 26 Asian tsunami killed more than 30,000 people in Sri Lanka and left nearly 4,700 missing.