Lankan Navy arrests 59 Indian fishermen in Chilaw waters

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Colombo, Mar 8 (UNI) The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested at least 59 Indian fishermen with six fishing trawlers in Sri Lankan territorial waters off Puttlam.

''Six trawlers with 59 Indian fishermen were arrested yesterday afternoon about 8 nautical miles away from Chilaw,'' Navy Spokesman Commander D K P Dassanayake told UNI over the phone.

They were brought to Kalpitiya lagoon and to be handed over to the local police for interrogation, Commander Dassanayake said, adding the latest arrest were made on the eve of Thanamalwila Church festival in Chilaw.

Indian High Commission confirmed that they had been informed by the Sri Lankan Navy about the latest arrest.

Last week, Sri Lankan Navy arrested 21 Indian fishermen off Puttlam sea waters and was later released in exchange of 25 Sri Lankan fishermen arrested by the Indian Navy.

Sri Lankan Navy in early February this year lodged a complaint with the Indian authorities over ''serious threat'' posed by the poaching Indian fishermen after a naval craft was damaged in a night shooting incident off Thalaimannar.

However, according to the Sri Lankan Navy, the incidents of Indian fishermen poaching into Sri Lankan territorial water have not diminished.

''Poaching of Indian fishermen has become a 'headache' for us. We will continue arrest and cannot tolerate this anymore,'' Commander Dassnayake said.

UNI XC SYU PM1342

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