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Police arrest 12 Tamils in connection with minister's slaying

August 14, 2005 17:07 IST
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Sri Lankan security forces arrested 12 minority Tamils in connection with the assassination of the island's foreign minister, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, as a Tamil lawmaker said only a peace deal could stop such killings in a country many feared was sliding back to war.

A state of emergency went into effect within hours of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar's slaying late Friday.

Top Sri Lankan officials warned that the killing was a major setback to the fragile peace process -- and cast doubt on the rebel Tamil Tiger's insistence that they were not behind the attack.

The overnight arrests came during raids by police and soldiers deployed to search the capital for suspects, Defence Ministry spokesman Brig. Daya Ratnayake said on Sunday.

The 11 Tamil men and one woman arrested were 'being interrogated, but at this moment of time we don't want to say anything', he said.

Ratnayake said a three-year-old cease-fire with the rebel Tamil Tigers was holding. "From our side there is no change. We are honouring the cease-fire," he said.

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