Sri Lanka activists demand release of 2 colleagues allegedly abducted by military

Sri Lankan human rights activists called for the release Tuesday of two colleagues they say were abducted nine months ago by the military.

The military has repeatedly denied involvement in the disappearance of Lalith Kumar Weeraraju, 29, and Kugan Muruganandan, 34.

The two members of the Movement for People's Struggle disappeared in December while organizing a news conference in the former war zone of Jaffna marking international human rights day.

Colleague and opposition lawmaker Ajith Kumara said he and other activists have information that the two are being detained by the military and are being interrogated and tortured.

Kumara and other activists, opposition politicians, teachers and union members signed a petition Tuesday demanding their release.

He said the two were abducted because they were attempting to safeguard the rights of people in the area, a focus of fighting in the country's 26-year civil war.

Military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya reiterated the military's denial of involvement in their disappearance, calling it "a false accusation."

The civil war ended in 2009 after government troops defeated Tamil Tiger rebels who were fighting for a separate state in the country's north and east.

Both government forces and rebels have been accused of rights violations during the conflict.

Since the war's end, the government has maintained a heavy military presence in the north despite international calls for a reduction of troops there.

Scores of ethnic Tamils suspected of having links with the rebels have disappeared.