The Sri Lankan navy on Tuesday arrested 147 Australia bound asylum seekers on two boats.
A navy spokesman said that one trawler was seized with 66 people on board in the southern seas of Beruwala while the other boat was nabbed with 81 people in northwestern Chilaw.
Most of the asylum seekers arrested were minority Tamils while the rest were Sinhalese, the navy spokesman said.
“There were 64 Tamils in one boat and 59 Tamils in the other. All those arrested are residents of Jaffna, Mullaithivu, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Kilinochchi, Chilaw, Puttlam, Colombo, Negombo, Kurunegala and Mannar,” the navy spokesman said.
The 147 asylum seekers were handed over to the criminal investigations division of the police for further investigations.
Hundreds of people have been arrested so far this year by the police and navy in Sri Lanka as they attempted to make the dangerous journey to Australia buy boat.
However at the same time many have managed to reach Australia where they are placed at a detention center on Christmas Island.
The Australian government is now in the process of shifting asylum seekers to an offshore processing center.
Both the Sri Lankan government and Australia have an agreement to combating human smuggling and the Sri Lankan authorities had recently warned asylum seekers not to fall prey to human smugglers who charge huge sums of money for the journey by boat. (Xinhua)