Three Tamil Tigers arrested with explosives inside railroad

Three ethnic minority Tamils were arrested with a bag containing explosives inside a railroad tunnel in Sri Lanka's mountainous tea-growing region, police said on Wednesday.

Regional police chief Chandana Gamage said the youths, aged between 21 and 24, were carrying 300 grams (10.58 ounces) of explosives when they were arrested in the tunnel in Hatton late Tuesday after a tip-off. Hatton is 180 kilometers (117 miles) east of the capital Colombo.

"They are now being interrogated" said Gamage, adding that the volume of explosives they were carrying may have been small in an attempt to avoid police detection. The type of explosives was not immediately known.

Gamage said it was not immediately known if the youths were suspected of having links with Tamil Tiger rebels, who launched a violent campaign in 1983 for a separate state for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils but signed a cease-fire with the government in 2002.

In the first known attack in the area last December, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead an army intelligence agent.

Tea-growing is one of Sri Lanka's biggest foreign income earners, and police have increased vigilance amid fears the rebels could try to push their cadres into the region.

Sri Lanka's civil war was halted by a 2002 cease-fire, but tension has grown after recent violence, mostly blamed on the rebels, left at least 150 people dead, including 81 government security officers, reports the AP.

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