Colombo: The Sri Lankan navy Thursday arrested 54 Australia-bound asylum seekers, Xinhua reported.
According to the Sri Lankan navy's media unit, a boat carrying the asylum seekers to Australia was spotted off Mirissa beach, in the south of the country by navy boats.
Among the asylum seekers were 47 minority Tamils, five Sinhalese nationals and two Muslims. "Those arrested are residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Colombo, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu and Trincomalee," the navy said.
Following a pre-dawn raid on the fishing boat, the asylum seekers were brought ashore and handed over to the police.
Around 1,000 people have been arrested in Sri Lanka this year while attempting to make the dangerous journey by boat to Australia as a number of others have managed to reach Australia by boat this year.