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First Group of Foreigners Evacuated from Northern Sri Lanka


Officials in Sri Lanka say a ferry carrying more than 150 foreign nationals and aid workers from the troubled northern Jaffna Peninsula has arrived at an eastern port.

The ferry, flying an International Committee of the Red Cross flag, docked at Trincomalee early Sunday. It is one of several ferries planned to evacuate foreign passport holders from the war-torn region.

As the vessel pulled into port, artillery fire could be heard in the distance.

Many foreign aid agencies have been forced to stop work and pull staff out of Jaffna until it becomes clear whether a 2002 ceasefire will hold, or Sri Lanka returns to civil war.

The United Nations says intense fighting in the north and east between Tamil rebels and government forces has forced more than 200-thousand people from their homes.

More than two decades of fighting has killed 65,000 people in Sri Lanka.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.