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article imageSri Lanka parade scaled down after sailors contract coronavirus

By AFP     May 18, 2020 in World

Sri Lanka has scaled down a low-key military parade to mark the anniversary of the end of its civil war after two sailors due to take part tested positive for coronavirus, officials said Monday.

Authorities had planned a simple ceremony for Tuesday to mark the military's crushing of the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, but two sailors tested positive on Monday and several others were waiting for results, officials said.

Sri Lanka has reported 981 infections and nine deaths since the virus first hit the island -- more than half among sailors from a camp near Colombo.

Health officials say, however, the spread of the virus is largely under control.

"We are going ahead with the ceremonies... but we will have a smaller number of personnel," an official told AFP.

Some 150 police and a "large number of troops" were sent to quarantine following Monday's positive tests, military sources told AFP.

Army chief Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva said Sunday that the virus had already forced the military to scale back the ceremony, and the parade in the capital was not open to the public.

Colombo and a neighbouring district remain under lockdown, although some of the restrictions imposed since late March have been lifted in other parts of the island nation.

Sri Lanka declared an end to 37 years of fighting in a civil war that claimed at least 100,000 lives after an all-out military offensive in 2009.

The United Nations and rights groups allege government troops killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians, but Colombo has denied the charge and refused international calls for an independent investigation.

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