Operation to free hostages

The Sri Lankan military on Friday launched an operation to rescue three prison guards taken hostage by inmates of a prison in the north of the country, prison officials said.

The three prison guards at the Vavuniya prison were taken hostage the previous evening by Tamil Tiger suspects who are jailed at the prison and overnight negotiations to secure the release of the hostages had failed, an official in the area told Xinhua.

He said that as a result, an operation was to be launched on Friday to rescue the three prison guards and the area surrounding the prison had been cordoned off.

The rebels held at the prison were angered over moves to transfer some of the prisoners to another detention center in the south.

Three prisoners were transferred to the Boosa detention center in the southern town of Galle following a court order.

The hostage takers demanded that the three inmates be returned to the Vavuniya prison immediately in order to set the prison guards free.

The Vavuniya prison has in the past had tensed situations caused by Tamil Tiger suspects jailed during and after the war.

Following 30 years of war, the Si Lankan military defeated the rebels three years ago and while some of the rebels who either surrendered or were captured had undergone rehabilitation, the most notorious rebels were jailed.

Some of the suspected Tamil Tiger prisoners however have not yet faced court charges and the government had recently decided to open new courts to expedite their cases. (Xinhua)