Colombo - As many as 10,000 Tamil rebels have surrendered to the Sri Lankan government in the northern part of the country. Most of them are due to undergo rehabilitation, a state run newspaper reported Sunday.
The government has already started rehabilitation programmes for more than 7,200 members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who surrendered before the fighting was officially declared over last Tuesday, the Sunday Observer in Colombo reported.
Rebels who have yet to be sent to rehabilitation centres have been isolated from the thousands of refugees in camps.
Earlier, Sri Lankan Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that the government will be drafting laws which would provide an amnesty for some members, though court proceedings will be necessary for those facing serious charges.
The number of rebels who surrendered provided some clue to the size of the Tiger's military operations.
Fighting in the final phase of the military operations against the rebels, which lasted 34 months, was fierce, with both sides suffering heavy casualties.
Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa last week admitted that 6,261 security force personnel, policemen and women and paramilitary group members were killed in the final phase, while nearly 30,000 others were injured.
He did not give estimated rebel casualties, but military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that an estimated 22,000 rebels were also killed during the period.
On Saturday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited refugee camps in northern Sri Lanka during a one-day visit in which he also met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Ban said United Nations and international non-governmental organizations need unimpeded access to refugee camps, where some 300,000 persons are being accommodated after fleeing Tamil-rebel-held areas in the northern part of the country.
Ban also called for an early political settlement to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict and warned that history could repeat itself.
The government should take steps to build confidence among the minorities and address issue of minorities, he said.
Tamil rebels had been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the country for the last 26 years. (dpa)
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