Accessibility links

Ship with 490 Tamil Asylum Seekers Arrives in Canada

Two Canadian navy tugboats (left-rear) guide MV Sun Sea, suspected of carrying 490 Tamil migrants, into dock at the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in British Columbia, 13 Aug 2010

Canada's public safety minister says if any human traffickers and terrorists are found, they will be prosecuted.

A ship carrying hundreds of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka has arrived at a Canadian naval base in British Columbia.

The cargo ship arrived Friday, escorted by the Canadian navy. Canadian officials boarded the ship ahead of its arrival, fearing that some of the 490 passengers could be human traffickers or terrorists.

The passengers are expected to be taken into custody at the naval base in western Canada, near the city of Victoria.

Canada's public safety minister, Vic Toews, says if any human traffickers or terrorists are found, they will be prosecuted. He says officials have been tracking the progress of the vessel for weeks.

Officials fear some of those aboard could be members of Sri Lanka's rebel Tamil Tiger group. Canada and the United States consider the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organization.

This is the second ship carrying Tamils to North America since last year's victory by Sri Lanka's military over the Tamil Tigers in a 25-year civil war.

A boat carrying Sri Lankan refugees landed on the shores of British Columbia last year. Everyone on board was detained and eventually released after being cleared of possible security threats.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.