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Tamil conflict highlighted on Swiss streets

Around 1,500 protestors have converged outside the parliament building in the Swiss capital Bern calling for an end to fighting in Sri Lanka.

The demonstration on Saturday, organised by the Fit4peace organisation, aimed to send a message to the Swiss government to step up its efforts to help resolve the conflict and called for an immediate cease-fire in the largely Tamil populated north of the country.

The event was preceded the day before by a demonstration by an estimated 14,000 Sri Lankan Tamils outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva calling for an end to "genocide".

They had come to Switzerland from a number of European countries, and after meeting at the central railway station, marched to the headquarters behind a van made to look like a hearse.

Many carried placards calling on the international community to intervene to help their "brothers and sisters" of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is fighting for autonomy in the north of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan government forces have recently launched a widescale offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels, in the hope of bringing to an end the conflict which has been going on for 37 years.

Few independent observers are allowed in the war zone, where tens of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes.

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