Police Fire Warning Shot; Sri Lankans Off Aceh To Be Escorted Back - [Photos]

Friday, 17 June 2016 - 15:16

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Police fired a warning shot into the air after a group of Sri Lankan women who have been stranded off the coast of Aceh since June 11 disembarked from their boat in defiance of orders from Indonesian authorities.

An eyewitness told Fairfax Media the five women, who are among 44 Sri Lankans who claimed they were en route to Australia when they suffered engine trouble, had earlier pleaded that a child they said was sick be allowed to come to shore.

Indonesian immigration authorities have refused to allow the Sri Lankans, who are believed to be Tamils, to disembark in Indonesia because they do not have passports or travel documents.

This is despite Amnesty International and the Geutanyoe Foundation for Aceh urging the Indonesian government to allow the Sri Lankans to disembark and meet with UN refugee agency officials.

​​Sabang navy commander Kiki said the boat was now fixed and would be escorted out of Indonesian waters by Indonesian navy ship Teluk Cirebon.

"But it's high waves now. We have to wait until weather permits," he said. "When it's OK, it will be towed out slowly through the reefs."

The international director of the Geutanyoe Foundation, Lilianne Fan, told Fairfax Media the Sri Lankans had indicated to local journalists that they had left Jaffna, the capital city of the northern province of Sri Lanka.

Fairfax Media understands the women who jumped off the boat on Thursday sat on the beach and mimed shooting themselves in the temple, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.

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