KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian police said on Friday they had arrested four foreign nationals suspected of having links to Sri Lanka’s defeated separatist Tamil Tigers, the second such detention aimed at the group’s militants in the southeast Asian country.
The four are believed to be senior members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, also known as the Tamil Tigers, crushed in 2009 after a 26-year civil war over their bid to carve out a independent state in the north of the Indian Ocean island.
They are suspected of invovlement in attacks in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
Police inspector general Khalid Abu Bakar said the suspects “were planning to reactivate the group by making Malaysia as their base of operations”. Some activists, he said, had exploited their status as refugees to pursue illegal activities.
“The police seriously view activities by foreign terrorists who attempt to use Malaysia as a transit, shelter and center for their operations,” Khalid said in a statement.
Those arrested included a suspected militant linked to the attempted assassination in 1999 of former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
A second suspect was described as an explosives expert, a third is alleged to have facilitated planned attacks on Sri Lankan consulates in India and the fourth is accused of gathering intelligence for the group. Counterfeit passports and other documents had been confiscated, Khalid said.
Malaysian police say they previously detained three men in mid-May suspected of trying to use Malaysia as a base to revive the separatist movement.
Malaysia deported the men back to Sri Lanka, where officials say they remain under investigation.
In April, the Sri Lanka military killed three Tamil separatist militants in the first combat since the government defeated the movement in 2009 after a decisive final advance against it lasting several months.
Authorities at the time said there had been attempts to revive the LTTE from abroad with funds illegally channeled to militants through a European country.
The United Nations has launched an inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by both Sri Lankan state forces and Tamil rebels in the final months of the conflict, saying the government has failed to investigate properly.
The Sri Lankan authorities reject the allegations on grounds they amounts to interference in domestic affairs and say they are addressing issues of accountability.
Reporting By Trinna Leong and Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah in Kuala Lumpur and Shihar Aneez in Colombo; Editing by Ron Popeski