VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Canadian security officials boarded a cargo ship Thursday carrying hundreds of Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, including some people Canada has said may be terrorists.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said 490 are onboard and said the vessel MV Sun Sea has declared them to be refugees. But he said the government has concerns that there may be members of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, on board. Canada has labeled the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group since 2006.
The ship is off the coast of Vancouver Island and is traveling at a slow rate of speed. The government has been preparing tents on seaside military facilities to house the people from the ship, and jails have been warned they could receive new inmates.
"A vessel carrying 490 individuals claiming refugee status — including suspected human smugglers and terrorists — entered our waters and the Canadian Government is taking action," Toews said. "Human smugglers and human traffickers are now watching Canada's response to judge whether or not they can continue to take advantage of us."