July 02, Colombo: Sri Lanka's military has denied reports that it has intercepted in mid-ocean a boat carrying over 153 illegal Tamil migrants bound for Australia .
It was reported earlier that a boat carrying 152 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seekers bound for Australia was in trouble at sea off a remote Australian island after it left India.
Reportedly, the boat, with illegal migrants including 32 women, and 37 children, was 300 km west of Christmas Island when it suffered an oil leak and a man on the boat called Duke has said that the vessel is in trouble about 250 kilometers off Christmas Island.
However, the boat has not been contactable since the weekend, indicating it may have been intercepted by the Australian Navy or Customs, the ABC news reported today.
Refugee right groups have expressed concern that Australia handed the group over to the Sri Lankan Navy.
Australian media reports said that the asylum seekers had been on a boat intercepted by the Australian navy near Christmas Island and then been handed over to Sri Lanka's military.
But the Sri Lanka Military Spokesman has told the ABC that there is no plan for the Sri Lankan Navy to take over asylum seekers bound for Australia from the Australian Navy.
Australian government is refusing to confirm or deny the boat's existence or its possible whereabouts, according to Australian media.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the government's policy was that it did not confirm nor otherwise comment on reports of on-water activities in relation to Operation Sovereign Borders.