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Abbott silent on Lankan asylum boat

2014 Jul 01

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today refused to comment on a suspected Sri Lankan asylum seeker boat and refugee advocates believe there is an attempt to tow the boat back to Sri Lanka.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Abbott as saying his government is determined to maintain its record of six months without an asylum-seeker boat.

The government has repeatedly refused to confirm reports that two boats have been intercepted by Australian authorities off Christmas Island.

“I’m not going to comment on the operational detail of what happens on the water but obviously we have been successful up to now,” Abbott told ABC radio today (Tuesday).

“It’s more than six months since a successful people-smuggling venture made it to Australia and that’s a record that the government is determined to maintain.”

One of the boats is reportedly carrying 153 Tamil asylum seekers, including about 30 children – many of them sick – while the other has 50 people aboard.

Refugee advocates say they have not heard from the Tamil asylum seekers since Saturday and they believe Australia is co-ordinating with the Sri Lankan navy to tow them back.

But Abbott refused to say whether the boat was being taken back to Sri Lanka.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he will only confirm incidents that involve safety of life at sea. (Colombo Gazette)

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