Sri Lanka's police arrested 35 suspected Tamil asylum seekers off the coast near Weligama, in the south of the country, Xinhua reported.
The Tamils, aged between 30 and 40, are all resident in the Northern Province towns of Jaffna, Mankulam, Chavakacheri, Olumadu, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Oddusuddan and Mallavi.
According to Xinhua, the arrests on Wednesday were the first of Tamils attempting to flee the country since the new government of Maithripala Sirisena came into power in January.
Police said the Tamils were preparing to sail to another country when they were spotted by the navy.
'Drivers of terror' still send Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka, says TRC (19 February 2015)