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Last updated: 22 January, 2009 - Published 14:09 GMT
 
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TMVP hands over 15 children
 
UNICEF chief of mission in Sri Lanka, Phillippe Duomelle (R), TMVP provincial councillor Edwin Silva Krishnananthan (Pradeep Master) and Secretary to ministry of Justice Suhada Gamlath attended the event
TMVP says 25 more children are currently on their ranks
A breakaway group of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers handed over 15 child combatants to the authorities on Thursday.

The Tamil Makkal viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) says only 25 more children are currently in their ranks.

The Sri Lanka government, TMVP and UNICEF signed an action plan to end child recruitment and to release children in TMVP ranks in December, last year.

The children were handed over to the Child Protection Authority in front of UNICEF representatives in Batticaloa.

A Child Welfare Unit built under the action plan was declared open by the three parties.

133 children

UNICEF chief of mission in Sri Lanka, Phillippe Duomelle, Secretary to ministry of Justice Suhada Gamlath and TMVP provincial councillor Edwin Silva Krishnananthan (Pradeep Master) attended the ceremony.

Child Welfare Unit was opened in Batticaloa
The unit was opened under an agreement between TMVP, UNICEF and govt.

In an earlier statement, UNICEF said there were 133 children still in TMVP ranks.

However, Pradeep Master told BBC Sandeshaya that UNICEF figures might be based on old data.

He insisted that only 25 youngsters under the age of 18 left in their ranks.

The TMVP that runs the eastern provincial council and many local councils contested the regional elections together with President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling coalition.

TMVP was formed by Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan (Karuna) after breaking away from the LTTE in 2004.

He was later appointed as an MP by the ruling coalition.

 
 
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