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Sea Tiger bid to attack troop-carrier vessels foiled: Navy

Written by: Staff
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Colombo, May 11 (UNI) The Sri Lankan navy today claimed that it had foiled a major bid by the LTTE's Sea Tigers wing from the Eastern port city of Trincomalee to the North, with its escort craft destroying three LTTE ships in the fierce mid-sea battle.

"The naval convoy carrying 710 security force personnel from Trincomalee came under attack at Vettilaikerni by a cluster of 15 Sea Tiger boats including suicide boats. The naval escort crafts confronted the LTTE vessels and destroyed three of them completely damaged four more," Navy Spokesman Commander S.

Dassanayake told UNI over the phone.

Confirming that the troop-carrier vessel "was saved and landed safely" at 6.30 pm (local time), the Navy Spokesman said that one Dvora Fast Attack Craft (FAC) of the Navy had been destroyed during the confrontation.

"One Dvora FAC was sunk when a Sea Tiger suicide boat laden with high explosives rammed into it. About 15 to 20 navy sailors, who were on board of the FAC at the time of the attack, are missing," Commander Dassanayake said, adding, he was waiting for more details from the Northern Naval Commander.

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website quoting the sources in the rebel-held Kilinochchi reported about an aerial attack by the Sri Lankan air force jets in the Wanni this evening following the sea battle and claimed that one of the bomb attacks was reported in Iranaimadu, where the LTTE reportedly constructed a runway.

Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told UNI over the phone that "the defence authorities have conducted a limited operation to deter further attacks by the LTTE".

'This limited operation was confined to the identified targets of the LTTE," Mr Rambukwella said. Reacting to the sea battle, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), overseeing the truce over the past four years, said that the Tamil Tigers have seriously violated the four-year long truce "with sea movements and attacks on Sri Lankan Navy" while throwing the Nordic monitors in "grave danger".

"The LTTE have committed gross violations of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in recent days by moving at sea with the aim of provoking the Sri Lankan navy and now finally embarking on an offensive operation against the navy sinking one vessel and putting SLMM monitors in grave danger," the SLMM in a statement said.

Ruling that the sea surrounding Sri Lanka "is a government controlled area" and that the LTTE has therefore no rights at sea, the SLMM said that "the LTTE has made, what the SLMM feels are threats to our monitors warning them not to participate in patrols in Navy vessels".

"The SLMM takes these threats very seriously and would like to remind the LTTE of its responsibility as an equal partner to the Ceasefire Agreement to do everything in its power not to jeopardise the monitors' safety," the statement said, urging the LTTE to cease immediately all activities and operations at sea.

"This sort of reckless behaviour can only lead to a dangerous escalation resulting in growing hostilities and jeopardising any possibility for future peace talks. We would also like to urge the Government of Sri Lanka not to be pushed by these provocative acts and to show as much restraint as possible," it said.

There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE in this regard.

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