Sri Lankan navy halts Tamil aid ship

By Jerome Taylor
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The Independent Online

A freighter loaded with aid funded by British Tamils has been intercepted and ordered to anchor by the Sri Lankan navy.

At least half the 884 tonnes of aid on the Captain Ali, a Syrian-registered vessel, has been provided by Tamils living in the UK. The ship's 13 crew members and two passengers – one of whom is British – have been detained on board by armed officers until the Sri Lankan navy decides whether or not they can proceed to a port.

The organisers say their mission to bring aid to the quarter of a million refugees displaced by the recently ended civil war in Sri Lanka is purely humanitarian. But the Sri Lankan navy intercepted the ship on suspicion that it may have been carrying supplies for the now defeated Tamil Tiger separatist movement.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government announced last night that it would consider prosecuting the doctors working in the war zone who were the only source of news about shelling of Tamil civilians for "collaboration with the LTTE". The doctors have been arrested and held without charge.