Eight Sri Lankan mercenaries fighting for Russian and Ukrainian forces killed: Police

COLOMBO, May 9 : At least eight Sri Lankan mercenaries have died in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the police said here on Thursday.

The mercenaries had joined the Russian and Ukrainian forces after unscrupulous foreign employment agencies misled several Sri Lankans in the name of foreign employment, they said.

“Six of them had died in Russia while two died in Ukraine. Ex-military personnel are on both fronts, the police said as a result of a racket of sending them to act as mercenaries in the Russia-Ukraine war,” the CID wing of the Sri Lankan police said in a statement.

The police said that 60 mercenaries are believed to be in Russia and another 23 in Ukraine.

According to the CID, several ex-military personnel were involved in the racket of deceiving youth in the name of foreign employment and ultimately sending them to Ukraine and Russia to make them forcibly join the forces of the two countries involved in the war that has prevailed over two years now.

In a message to ex-servicemen, Sri Lankan Defence Ministry’s top bureaucrat Kamal Gunaratne said that unscrupulous foreign employment agencies and those who fall victim to their rackets would be arrested in a severe crackdown.

The statement came a day after two ex-military personnel – a retired major general and a sergeant – were arrested on Wednesday in the northwestern region of Kurunegala for being involved in such a matter.

The ministry early in April had officially declared that there were no deployment of Sri Lankan troops to serve in the Ukrainian war.

Since December last year, there have been reports of several Sri Lankan mercenaries being killed in the Ukrainian war.

“We have heard reports that 10-15 lakhs of rupees are being offered as salaries to those who go to the front,” Gunaratne said, adding that the racket of sending the ex-servicemen to the war front is being done by agencies which are currently being identified.

Gunaratne said it had not been possible to gain details of those reported to have been killed while serving as mercenaries.

“They have been pledged plots of lands in St Pietersburg and the opportunities for the families to join them as part of the racket,” Gunaratne said. (PTI)

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