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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2529

Navy destroys three arms carrying ships of the LTTE 600 nautical miles off Dondra Head

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 12 September, ( The Sri Lanka Navy announced that it had destroyed and sunk three freight ships belonged to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), carrying heavy loads of arms and ammunition within a period of twenty four hour successively.

According to Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda,
three ships carrying a large stock of arms, ammunition and a light aircraft for Tamil rebels have been intercepted and destroyed off Sri Lanka's southern coast.

"They were carrying a light aircraft in knocked-down form, a bullet-proof vehicle and also artillery guns," the navy commander said, quoting intelligence reports.

Navy intelligence reportsrevealed that Navy destroyed vessels in addition to large stocks of arms and ammunition was also carrying a bullet proof car for the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The sinking of the news came with another major defeat for the LTTE, the arrest of Kumaran Padmanadan (KP) the most successful fugitive arms procurer of the group in Thailand.

The Navy said the successive attacks on the LTTE arms smuggling ships occurred during twenty four hours ending in the morning of September 11.

Each of the vessels was around 70 metres in length and were carrying the names Seishin, Koshi and Mayoshi, but the names were believed to be fake and they were not running under a country flag, the commander explained.

Over the last one and half years at least six ships carrying military hardware for the rebels have been destroyed off the south-eastern, eastern and north-eastern coasts of the country.

Two of the vessels were sunk in March while in February another vessel was sunk. Military officials said they believe that rebels were in the process of collecting arms and ammunition to defend themselves amidst reports that the military may target the rebel stronghold in the northern province.

Government troops captured the eastern province after a near one year operation and are in the process of resettling civilians who have been displaced due to the conflict.

The Navy said the attacks took place 600 nautical miles or 1200 kilometers North East of Dondra Head, the island nation’s southernmost tip, in the Indian Ocean.

The Navy gun ships, armed with intelligence reports that the ships were coming were anxiously patrolling in the area, waiting for the arrival of the contraband carrying ships, the Navy said.

The Ministry of Defense said, “The first LTTE ship was detected around 8 on Monday (September 10) morning. The Navy gun-ships had rounded up the suspicious ship which had no ensign or name on it and ordered to identify it, using the international challenging procedures. Instead of providing the information to the Navy, the suspicious ship had opened fire towards the navy ships compelling the sailors to fire in retaliation, causing the ship to be destroyed around 10.30 a.m.”

According to the same sources, later the same day, the Navy detected two more suspicious vessels in the same waters sailing in the same direction as the first ship keeping about a 50 Km gap between each other.

The navy said navy gunboats approached the second ship and they were shot at like previously, compelling them to destroy the freighter around 5.30 in the evening.

The third arms carrying vessel of the LTTE was destroyed after a pursuit. The Navy said, the third suspicious vessel was first detected around 10 p.m. After five hours of pursuit, the Navy could get sufficiently close to it. This vessel had fired 120 mm heavy mortars at the approaching Navy vessels before it was sunk by naval fire around 3 this morning, the Navy claimed.

Navy Commander Rear Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda said the Navy Intelligence Department had received information on the LTTE ships about two weeks earlier, and proactive action were taken by Navy Headquarters to intercept them.

Speaking to reporters, at a media briefing in Colombo, the Navy Commander said, with the latest triumph of the Navy, nine out of ten ships believed to be owned by the LTTE terrorists have been destroyed.

According to Commander DKP Dassanayake , the spokesman of the Navy, the LTTE ships had been carrying large stocks of military hardware, fuel and a bullet proof vehicle for LTTE's leader V. Prabhakaran. He said, according to the intelligence reports, there were 120mm heavy mortar guns and bombs; stocks of ammunition for 130 mm; 122 mm and 152 mm artillery guns; Spare parts of three light aircraft; one high-speed boat and fuel onboard the ships. The Navy said the present successes were possible due to the enhancement of their intelligence capabilities.

- Asian Tribune -

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