Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Sri Lanka's former civil war zone in a sign of solidarity with minority Tamils who are calling for regional autonomy to end a decades-old ethnic conflict.

Modi's visit to the region on Saturday comes a day after he called for greater autonomy for the Tamils during talks with Sri Lankan officials.

      India has a strong interest in the issue because southern India is home to 60 million Tamils.

Sri Lanka's quarter century civil war ended in 2009 when government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting to create a separate state for Tamils in the island nation's north and east.