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President sacks senior army officers over 'security fears'

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sacked a group of senior military officers and carried out a major shake-up of the army after his defeat of former top general Sarath Fonseka in a disputed presidential election last week.

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AFP - Sri Lanka's president on Monday sacked a group of senior military officers who the defence ministry said were a "threat to national security" after last week's presidential elections.

President Mahinda Rajapakse had accused the defeated opposition of planning to assassinate him after he beat former army general Sarath Fonseka in the January 26 poll.

Security forces kept Fonseka under siege while election results were announced on Wednesday, and 15 retired officers working at Fonseka's offices were later arrested by police.

A military source who declined to be named told AFP that 12 top officers were sacked to thwart any attempted coup by Fonseka's supporters inside the military.

The defence ministry in a statement said an undisclosed number were "sent on compulsory retirement" because they were considered a "direct threat to national security".

Rajapakse and Fonseka were close allies in the military offensive that finally crushed the separatist Tamil Tigers in May, but they fell out after the victory and went head-to-head in the presidential elections.

When he resigned from the military in November, Fonseka accused Rajapakse of falsely suspecting him of planning a coup.

The president also carried out a major shake-up of the army over the weekend, transferring 40 officers and promoting several considered loyal to his administration.

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