Rebels abduct 16 children from orphanage in Sri Lanka

December 29th, 2008 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 29 (DPA) Tamil rebels abducted 16 children from a Catholic orphanage in northern Sri Lanka to be enlisted in their movement as fighters, the defence ministry said Monday, citing witnesses.The children were taken away from the Dharmapuram orphanage in Kilinochchi, 320 km north of the capital, after holding two Roman Catholic priests at gunpoint Friday, the ministry said.

It said the Tamil rebels demanded the priest release all children above the age of 12. The incident was witnessed by a woman who lives adjacent to the church, the ministry said.

“Those innocent children tried in vain to cling on to the two priests. They pleaded with the cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to let them go. But they were dragged like cattle taken to the slaughterhouse,” the ministry quoted the woman as saying.

“I will never forgive myself for not helping those children. But I had to save my children first. That is why I left my home,” the mother of two said, according to the army.

The civilians were among a group of 38 who escaped into a government-controlled area after fleeing the fighting.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Colombo said it could not verify the claims by the civilians because communication with the orphanage was cut off.

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