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Sri Lanka arrests 103 heading for Oz

World

Colombo, Sri Lanka -

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In this Wednesday, July 4, 2012 photo released by Indonesian National Search And Rescue Agency, a wooden boat which is believed to have up to 180 asylum seekers on board floats on the waters off Christmas Island, Australia. Australian rescuers were trying to help a migrant-filled boat in bad weather and rough seas off Indonesia on Wednesday, a day after the countries agreed to strengthen maritime ties to combat people smuggling. (AP Photo/Indonesian National Search And Rescue Agency)

Sri Lanka's navy says it has arrested 103 men who were attempting to migrate to Australia illegally in three fishing trawlers.

A navy statement said on Tuesday that two trawlers were intercepted on Monday off the island's western coast and another detained off the eastern coast.

It says those arrested were Sri Lankan men. They have been handed over to police who are investigating.

It is an offense under Sri Lankan law to leave the country through unauthorized ports. Those who do can receive a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Already this year, police have arrested 600 Australia-bound Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis and Afghans in Sri Lankan waters. - Sapa-AP

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