'Tamil unit' for Sri Lanka's army
Sri Lanka's army is to establish an ethnic Tamil regiment for the first time, the minister for national reconciliation has told the BBC.
Vinyagamoorthi Muralitharan, who defected from Tamil rebels to ally with the government, said the army chief told him of the plan a few days ago.
He said that hundreds of cadres from his militia had already joined up.
Sri Lanka is expanding its army although it recently declared victory in its civil war with Tamil rebels.
Mr Muralitharan - better known as Col Karuna - was a senior commander in the LTTE before defecting from them in 2004. He subsequently formed a paramilitary group Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal party (TMVP), which primarily operated in the east of the country.
"Six hundred cadres out of 900 have already joined the army. [The] rest of my cadres are currently staying in military camps. I hope all of them will join the army once their paperwork is completed," he told the BBC's Sinhala service.
He said that some of his former cadres might even be appointed as officers
"It seems they will only be stationed in the east at the moment. There is no need to send them to other areas as the war is now over. It is possible that youth from the east will serve in camps in the east," he said.