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SLMM condemns Mannar attack as Navy searches for missing sailors

Written by: Staff

Colombo, Mar 26 (UNI) The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) today condemned mid-sea attack on a Navy boat off Kalpitiya in the Mannar district, while the naval divers were still searching for the eight missing sailors.

''The LTTE have denied any involvement in the attack. However, based on the SLMM's experience during the period of ceasefire agreement, we feel that we cannot rule out at this stage their involvement,'' the SLMM statement said, urging the LTTE to assist both the Sri Lankan government and the SLMM in the investigation to establish how the attack came about and how such incidents could be avoided in the future.

According to the military sources, the naval attack boat on a routine patrol was approaching for interception at Kuthiraimalai when an LTTE fishing trawler, suspectedly carrying arms and ammunitions from the Southern region, self-exploded itself allegedly killing six of its LTTE cadres.

The explosion was so intense that it damaged the Naval craft on the approach, which sank subsequently with nineteen naval sailors onboard. Eleven sailors had been rescued and the navy divers were still searching for the eight missing sailors, they added. Commenting on Army's dismissal of claims in the past on the operation armed groups in the government-held areas, the statement said ''based on the SLMM's monitoring activities and experience on the ground, the Mission does not share this view''.

''We would like to urge the government of Sri Lanka to take this matter seriously and not close their eyes to armed elements that are to our knowledge are still operating in government controlled areas,'' the SLMM said.

Charging that both the parties have shown lack of commitment as their actions have been provocative, the SLMM warned that the current escalation of violence could lead to a return of the era of bloody war in the country.

The SLMM said that the trend "is extremely worrying" as parties were getting ready to meet in Geneva for the second round of talks in mid-April and such happenings could upset the developments.


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