London, Aug 13 (ANI): The Canadian government has confirmed that its navy has boarded the Tamil refugee ship 'MV Sun Sea' headed toward Vancouver, carrying 490 asylum seekers, including some people who might be members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"A vessel carrying 490 individuals claiming refugee status -- including suspected human smugglers and terrorists-entered our waters and the Canadian Government is taking action," Fox News quoted Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, as saying.
"Human smugglers and human traffickers are now watching Canada's response to judge whether or not they can continue to take advantage of us," he added.anadian officials are prepared to arrest, investigate and prosecute them if required.
Some have raised concerns that the Tamil Tigers are looking to exploit Canada's lax refugee policies to build their network and prepare for a new wave of violence.
In 2009, the Canadian government took into custody 76 people said to be Tamil refugees who arrived by boat. The government is still processing them.
Meanwhile, United States is keeping an eye on the movement of the ship, which appeared to be heading toward Canada since July.
"We are in close consultation with the government of Canada about contingencies, and are aware of the vessel and we will monitor its arrival. Should an emergency arise, the United States will respond appropriately," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said.
Last week, the Sri Lanka United National Association of Canada sent a letter last to top government officials in Ottawa warning them that Canadian Tamils are planning to "re-group and secretly transfer (the Tigers) to the jungles of Sri Lanka to resume the guerilla warfare in pursuit of a mono-ethnic Tamil separate state."
The group also warned that Canadian soil could be used to "export terrorist violence to Sri Lanka or other (parts) of the world."
On Sunday, Sri Lnkan media reported that 'MV Sun Sea' was used to smuggle arms to Sri Lanka and that its captain is allegedly a Tigers leader.
However, David Poopalapillai, spokesman for the Toronto-based Canadian Tamil Congress, called the claims that Tamil Tigers are on board "propaganda" started in Sri Lanka.
"For the Sri Lankan government, every Tamil is a kind of a terrorist, Poopalapillai said the Canadian Tamil Congress views those on board as refugees seeking asylum from persecution in Sri Lanka." he added. (ANI)