Colombo: Sri Lanka will release a big batch of nearly 400 ex-LTTE militants on the eve of Diwali next week as part of moves to rehabilitate the former combatants.

"We will be releasing them to mark the Diwali festival", Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reform Chandrasiri Gajadeera said on Saturday.

"We have by now released most of the 11,000 former LTTE members after rehabilitation," Gajadeera stressed.

Lankan officials said the process of rehabilitation had been quicker than expected with the programme coming to a conclusion before the originally set December 31 deadline.

The LTTE members who had surrendered to the government troops at the end of the 30 year conflict in May, 2009, were put through rehabilitation by providing them vocational training, counselling and language skills.

All of them recruited by the LTTE during the height of the conflict had not come in contact with the majority Sinhala population, officials said.

The government provides loans for self employment to these rehabilitated youth to restart their lives, they added.

(Agencies)