Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lanka Arrests Over 36,400 Army Deserters Following War

COLOMBO, May 7 (Xinhua) — Following the end of three decade civil war, Sri Lanka has arrested over 36,400 soldiers who had deserted the army, a military spokesman said Monday.

Army Spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said during the first three months of 2012, over 2500 ex-soldiers have been arrested and they were dealt with military law.

Over the past two decades, around 65,000 soldiers have deserted the army and since the end of war in 2009, over 36,400 of them have been arrested. “There are another thousand to be arrested and the deserters have become an administrative burden to the country’s army,” Wanigasooriya said.

Sri Lanka’s army has around 200,000 approved carders but the deserters have become a problem to maintain the figures. “Following the end of war in May 2009, we gave a number of opportunities for those deserters to return and clear their files and leave the army officially,” Wanigasooriya said.

He added while short-term absentees of one or two months have to face a summary procedure, those long-term absentees would be dealt by the court martial under the military law.

It is reported that during the rice harvesting seasons in Sri Lanka, soldiers who are mostly from countryside families keep away from military service to support their families in paddy fields.

Sri Lanka’s army has fought Tamil Tiger rebels for three decades and more than 21,000 soldiers were killed in battlefront.

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