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Sri Lankan president admits those declared ‘missing’ in war are dead

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Sri Lanka’s President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has acknowledged thousands of people registered as missing following the country’s 26-year-long civil war are in fact dead.

“These missing persons are actually dead. Most of them had been taken by the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebel group] or forcefully conscripted,’’ Rajapaksa said.

Rajapaksa made the comments when he met United Nations coordinator Hanna Singer on Friday. However, the remarks were only made public recently.

Rajapaksa did not mention how many missing people he was talking about, save for 23,500 people, including 5,000 soldiers who were declared missing during the brutal final three years of the conflict.

He told the UN representative that after the necessary investigations, steps would be taken to issue death certificates for those previously thought missing.

“Afterwards their families will be given the support they need to continue with their lives,” Rajapaksa said.

LTTE rebels fought for a separate state in the north and eastern parts of Sri Lanka from 1983. However, they were eventually defeated by the Sri Lankan military in 2009.

Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Silas Nwoha

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