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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 74

Desperate Tamil rebels snatch village children to serve ....

[b]Desperate Tamil rebels snatch village children to serve as footsoldiers [/b]

Wearing a filthy batik sarong, a man lies snoring outside a shabeen, his hair matted with red dust, his nose a collage of broken veins. Inside the tin-roofed shack, a dozen Tamil men are just visible, their faces stupefied by toddy, alcohol distilled from the spiky Palmyra leaves and sipped from cracked clay bowls.

Alcoholism is endemic in Kalkudah, a fishing village trapped on a spit of land between a foul-smelling lagoon and an abandoned military base on Sri Lanka's east coast.

The canneries that kept hundreds of fishing boats on the Bay of Bengal are gone, decimated by years of war and the tsunami. Many men are reluctant to return to work, relying on handouts from charities.

The army stopped patrolling here months ago, scared off by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have effectively claimed huge swaths of land along this coast. The local police rarely raise their heads. But most notable about Kalkudah is that there are few children.

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