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Lanka impose fishing ban along Indian maritime border

Written by: Staff
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Colombo, Mar 27 (UNI) The government of Sri Lanka banned deep sea fishing along the maritime border with India with immediate effect from today, after eight navy sailors went missing in a mid-sea explosion involving an alleged LTTE gun-running trawler off the Mannar coast.

The Navy in a statement said this evening that a prohibited zone is covered from Sangamankanda to Puttalam, northbound from Sangamankanda ''around the Jaffna peninsula upto a distance of 12 nautical miles from land up to International Maritime Boundary between India and Sri Lanka.'' According to the Navy statement, the restriction on fishing ''will be imposed with immediate effect for all vessels above three tons and 28 feet long, capable of sustaining at sea for more than one day.'' The Navy said its commander Vice Admiral, Wasantha Karannagoda has been appointed Competent Authority and ''no person shall be allowed to enter the prohibited zone in any such vessel or boat or remain within or ply any such vessel for any purpose except with the written authority of the Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy.'' The deep sea fishing ban in Sri Lanka has also come amidst reports of frequent straying Indian fishermen into Sri Lankan territorial waters.

It was not immediately known the kind of action the Navy would take against those who violate the new fishing ban in the background of the existing state of emergency in the country that gives sweeping powers to security forces.

A Sri Lankan naval fast attack craft (FAC) on a routine patrol was sunk off Mannar seas on Saturday, when it was approaching for interception at Kuthiraimalai, an LTTE fishing trawler suspectedly carrying arms and ammunitions from the southern region, when the LTTE trawler with six LTTE cadres onboard self-exploded.

The military here said the explosion was so high that it damaged the Naval craft on the approach, which sank subsequently with nineteen naval sailors on board. Eleven sailors had been rescued and the missing eight sailors are presumed dead.

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