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The 'Disappeared' in Sri Lanka

For the parents of a successful young woman called Komadhy, the last month has been little short of torture. They've tried everything. They spoken to government officials, to the police, to journalists. Yet they still have no idea who snatched their daughter from a house in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, or whether she's now alive.

In despair, they now pin their hope on fortune tellers -- going from one to another with Komadhy's astrological chart in the hope they'll provide some answers. Komadhy, whois from the Tamil minority, is one of hundreds of Sri Lankans who have been abducted in the last few months. Few emerge alive. In Vavuniya a few days ago, three young Sri Lankan men were abducted, then lined up and shot. Terrified neighbors say they were brought there by a mysterious unmarked white van.

It's a story you often hear in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers have a reputation of killing rivals and kidnapping children to serve in their ranks. Now, there are growing allegations that government security forces, or their proxies, are operating deaths squads with impunity.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.