COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan police say they’ve arrested 22 people who were attempting to illegally migrate to Australia by boat.
According to police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara, the suspects were arrested on a tip on Sunday at the coastal town of Puttalam, about 120 kilometres (74 miles) north of the capital, Colombo. They were to appear in court on Monday.
Sri Lankan and Australian authorities are co-operating with each other to combat human smuggling. No Sri Lankan asylum seekers have reached Australia by boat since 2013.
But Sri Lankans, Iranians and Afghans are the largest national groups among more than 2,000 asylum seekers living on the Pacific islands nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Australia pays those countries to house them, but refuses to resettle any of them.