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Indian Troops Begin Pullout From Sri Lanka

Associated Press

Indian peacekeeping troops have begun leaving Sri Lanka, an Indian official said Thursday, nearly 18 months after the soldiers arrived on a mission to disarm Tamil rebels and enforce a cease-fire.

“Some Indian troops have already left Sri Lanka during the past two days, and another battalion is scheduled to leave Sunday,” said Gurjit Singh, a spokesman for the Indian High Commission.

India sent troops to Sri Lanka in July, 1987, after the two countries signed an accord aimed at ending the war by Tamil rebels for an independent homeland.

The largest and most militant Tamil group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, rejected the accord, saying it failed to meet their demands for self-rule.

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The presence of 47,000 Indian troops in Sri Lanka triggered resentment among Tamils and Sinhalese, the country’s ethnic majority. Indian troops soon became caught in the fighting, and more than 625 Indian soldiers have been killed.

Shortly after his election last month, President Ranasinghe Premadasa asked India to start withdrawing its troops.

India announced Sunday that 2,000 to 3,000 troops will leave this week. The remaining soldiers will be withdrawn gradually, India said.


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