Seven people have been arrested at Sri Lanka's main international airport after security checks showed they had swallowed pieces of gold. It is believed they were attempting to smuggle the precious metal into India and avoid import duties.
The men - one Sri Lankan and six Indians - were about to board a flight to
Chennai (Madras) when they were apprehended, officials said. The men have been taken to a hospital to allow nature to take its course. A total of 25 pieces of gold were detected.
A spokesman for Sri Lanka Customs, Leslie Gamini, said that the
detainees, who are between 40 and 50 years old, were being fed with banana,
curd and pittu, a Sri Lankan dish made of rice flour and shredded coconut. So far four pieces of gold had been retrieved from two of the men, he
"The gold has not been valued or weighed - investigations are going on," he
said. India is the biggest gold market in the world. Demand for gold has risen
after the recent drop in prices. Last week India increased the duty on imports of gold jewellery to 15% from
10%, in its latest attempt to curb the demand for the precious metal.