No political solution will work without defeating LTTE

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Colombo, Sept 17 (UNI) Vowing to wipe out the menace of terrorism, Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa today said no political solution to the prolonged ethnic conflict would work without defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels militarily.

The Defence Secretary, also the younger brother of president Mahinda Rajapaksa, made these observations while addressing a naval ceremony at the country's natural harbour in the eastern port city of Trincomalee to celebrate the attack on three LTTE's gun-running vessels by the Sri Lankan navy a week ago.

''Our President is working hard to find a lasting political solution to the ongoing ethnic conflict. But no political solution will work if you do not defeat the LTTE militarily,'' he said in the presence of the president Rajapaksa in Trincomalee.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, also the Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of the country's armed forces, was the chief guest at the ceremony in the heavily-guarded Trincomalee naval base.

Sri Lankan navy, on September 11, claimed that its offshore patrol vessels had attacked and sunk three gun-running vessels of the LTTE in three different incidents, some 600 km southeast of Sri Lanka's southern tip of Dondra, allegedly killing at least 45 LTTE cadres onboard.

Sri Lankan navy said it mounted this ''well-planned operation'' on September 10 after receiving ''credible information with regard to the LTTE arms supply vessels that were suspected to be carrying three light wing aircraft, artillery guns and bombs to the north''.

The navy believed that the Tigers were transporting light aircraft, artillery and a bullet-proof vehicle for the use of the elusive LTTE chief in the three vessels sunk.

Claiming the latest naval attack as a ''massive blow to the LTTE'' the navy said it had "effectively sealed off the entire coastal line of Sri Lanka preventing the LTTE from continuing their arms smuggling activities.'' The Defence Secretary thanked the sailors for carrying out a major attack on the Tigers in the high seas aiming to stall the rebels' gun-running activities and urged the armed forces to continue the same commitment towards defeating terrorism completely.

The LTTE has not made any remarks so far on the Sri Lankan navy's claim with regard to the sinking of their three gun-running vessels.

UNI

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