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Sri Lankan police today arrested 28 people, including five children, while they were trying to illegally migrate to Australia by boarding a fishing trawler.
They were arrested on their way to the Mirissa fishing harbour in the southern coastal district of Matara intending to board a fishing trawler for the risky voyage to Australia, police said.
The arrested belong to former battle zones of north and east.
Each of them were to pay local rupees 800,000 (USD 6400) each for the trip of which 100,000 had been paid in advance. The balance was to be due on arrival in Australia.
Seven members of one family and five children were among those arrested.
Sri Lankan and Australian authorities have jointly worked to curb the scam of illegal immigrants on fishing boats.
In August last year at the peak of the scam, Australia set up off shore asylum seeker processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea to accommodate the influx of pending processing of their asylum applications.
Since then the Australian government has sent back nearly 1,000 Sri Lankan asylum seekers.