The Sri Lankan government has arrested more than 200 boat people that said to be on their way to Australia over the weekend.
Local Sri Lankan authorities told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday that 153 individuals have been intercepted by the country's naval ships since Saturday and all were believed to be headed for Indonesia, en route to Australia to seek asylum.
All in all, 250 people have been detained by Colombo since last week, preventing them from embarking on risky sea journey that they hoped would bring them to Australia in search of a better future.
No details on the nationality of the boat people were provided by local authorities, AFP reported.
"We are handing over these people to the police for further investigations and necessary action," a Sri Lankan navy official was reported by the French news agency as saying.
In an interview with ABC on Monday, Sri Lanka's High Commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe said those arrested "will be put to magistrate courts ... they will be detained for further investigation until further, otherwise they'll be released on bail."
Mr Samarasinghe assured too that his country's navy forces had taken into account the safety of the asylum seekers, pointing out that an operation on Saturday was conducted while a trawler carrying 22 persons had yet to leave Sri Lankan shores.
"Their safety is most important for the navy when they are arrested," the Sri Lankan official stressed.
He also declared that his county's policy of turning back boat people within its area of jurisdiction serves as 'a physical barrier' to remind everyone "that they can't leave Sri Lankan shores."
The arrests were made as Australia continues to grapple with attempts by asylum seekers to illegally enters its northwest borders, risking their lives on perilous sea travels in which they were cramped by human smugglers on wooden boats.
Scores have died trying to sneak in, the latest of which prior to the six-week winter break of the Parliament.
Before adjourning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard failed to muster enough votes to support a compromise bill, authored by independent MP Rob Oakeshott, that would have allowed her government to implement offshore processing while making room for the Coalition's version of tackling the highly contentious matter.
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