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 Post subject: Ship with 710 soldiers attacked - 67 killed in sea battle
 Post Posted: Thu May 11, 2006 11:58 pm 
Ship with 710 soldiers attacked - 67 killed in sea battle

Sri Lanka bombs rebels after deadly attack on navy

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The 17 crewmen were killed when Tiger suicide bombers rammed into their fast attack boat off Sri Lanka's northern tip, while the military sank 5 rebel vessels. The transporter carrying 710 troops had sought refuge in Indian waters and was safe.

Thu May 11, 2006 10:54 PM IST
@ Reuters India Top News


By Peter Apps

VAVUNIYA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Sri Lanka bombed Tamil Tiger territory near their northern headquarters on Thursday after rebels attacked a naval transporter with hundreds of servicemen aboard and sank another naval vessel, killing 17.

The air force scrambled fighter jets and helicopter gunships to the area in the worst military confrontation since a 2002 ceasefire halted two decades of civil war. Neighbouring India's military was assessing the situation.

The 17 crewmen were killed when Tiger suicide bombers rammed into their fast attack boat off Sri Lanka's northern tip, while the military sank 5 rebel vessels. The transporter carrying 710 troops had sought refuge in Indian waters and was safe.

"The air force has bombed our territory, but nothing has fallen here," rebel media coordinator Daya Master told Reuters from Kilinochchi town, capital of the Tigers' de facto state.

He had no word on rebel casualties, but the military believed 50 Tigers died at sea.

Bombings and land and sea clashes have killed more than 200 people in the past month. More people were killed in April than during many periods of the war itself, when attacks were often sporadic and followed by weeks of little activity.

Local aid workers in Kilinochchi said they had heard loud explosions nearby. Daya Master denied reports that a strategic air strip in rebel territory had been bombed, which military officials believed had been hit.

"They went for the 'Pearl Cruise' (transporter) with unarmed soldiers on board and (a truce monitor) flag on the top. It's a big violation," said Major General Ulf Henricsson, head of the Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

"It's almost the same as terminating the ceasefire by will," he added, saying there had also been shelling in Trincomalee and Sampur in separate attacks in the east of the island.

The naval battle was around 50 km away from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's northern stronghold. In Vavuniya, near the Tigers' southern border, the streets were deserted as nervous residents stayed inside.

WAR IN ALL BUT NAME?

The Tigers, who are fighting for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east, have withdrawn from peace talks indefinitely, warning ominously on Tuesday that Sri Lanka was moving towards the "fringes" of war.

The violence comes after a rash of attacks in April, one of the bloodiest months of the island's four-year ceasefire, and just a day after a Japanese peace envoy had made an abortive bid to coax the Tigers to return to peace talks.

The Tigers and the majority-Sinhalese government each accuse the other of ethnically-motivated attacks.

Truce monitors said on Thursday they believe Sri Lankan troops are involved in killing civilians from the ethnic Tamil minority in the island's north, which the government and military vehemently deny.

Many ordinary Tamils in the northern army-held enclave of Jaffna -- which the Tigers regard as their homeland and ultimately want back -- fear they may have to flee their homes and rebuild their lives all over again.

"I know some people who are packing their bags ready to move away if war starts again," said Jacob Rajasingham, 52, who makes a living hiring out his car and a minivan and was forced to flee Jaffna ahead of an assault in 1995.

"I dread to leave the house because of the fear and tension," he added. "Perhaps I should pack my bags too."

(Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Buddhika Weerasinghe)


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 Post subject: Sri Lanka fears rise as sea battle kills 67
 Post Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 12:02 am 
Sri Lanka fears rise as sea battle kills 67

At least 17 Sri Lankan sailors and 50 Tamil Tiger rebels were reported killed Thursday in a fierce sea battle off the island's north - an action that possibly took the country closer to a return to civil war.

© 2005 The Standard- HK
Friday, May 12, 2006


At least 17 Sri Lankan sailors and 50 Tamil Tiger rebels were reported killed Thursday in a fierce sea battle off the island's north - an action that possibly took the country closer to a return to civil war.

Tamil rebels sank a navy fast-attack craft by ramming it with a boat loaded with explosives, military spokesman PD K Dassanayake said, adding that the navy vessel was among escorts for a ship transporting 710 soldiers.

"We lost a Dvora [fast-attack craft] but managed to save Pearl Cruise II and the 710 men aboard it," Dassanayake said. At least 17 Sri Lankan sailors and 50 rebels died in the 2-hour battle.

Other military officials said the transporter sustained light damage and was sheltering in Indian waters after the confrontation.

According to Sri Lanka's military, it sank five rebel boats in immediate retaliation for the sinking of the navy craft, which happened as a convoy moved army personnel from Point Pedro in the northern peninsula of Jaffna to the northeastern port of Trincomalee.

Other reports were that the navy had lost two of its fast-attack craft.

Sri Lanka's air force scrambled fighter jets and helicopter gunships to the area in the worst outbreak of trouble since a 2002 cease-fire halted two decades of civil war that claimed at least 60,000 lives.

"The air force has bombed our territory, but nothing has fallen here," said rebel media coordinator Daya Master from Kilinochchi town. "We have no word on casualties yet."

Aid workers in Kilinochchi said they had heard one loud explosion nearby, though the sea battle was about 50 kilometers from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's northern stronghold.

"Our monitors saw several Tiger boats attacking the troop transporter and firing," said Helen Olafsdottir, spokeswoman for the unarmed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

"We have a monitor on that boat." Olafsdottir also said two of the government's Israeli-built fast-attack boats had been sunk.

The Tigers, who are fighting for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east, have withdrawn from peace talks indefinitely, warning ominously on Tuesday that Sri Lanka was moving towards the "fringes" of war.

In a separate incident in the island's restive eastern district of Trincomalee, the military said rebels had fired mortars and bursts of gunfire at a navy post but no one had been hurt.

The violence comes after a rash of attacks in April, one of the bloodiest months of the island's four-year cease- fire, and just a day after a Japanese peace envoy left the island after an abortive bid to coax the Tigers to return to peace talks. Bombings and land and sea clashes have killed more than 200 people in the past month.

The Tigers and the majority- Sinhalese government each accuse the other of ethnically motivated attacks.


AGENCIES


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 Post subject: Search operations for missing sailors - Seven bodies found
 Post Posted: Sat May 13, 2006 4:35 am 
Search operations for missing naval soldiers in progress - Seven bodies found

@ CDN / 13MAY2006

Seven bodies of the 18 crew members of Dvora P-418 which sank after an LTTE attack off Vettilaikerni on Thursday were found yesterday. One has been identified as that of sailor A.M.A.N. Bandara.

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Eighteen crew members including the commander of the vessel Lt. Commander E.A.L.P. Edirisinghe and Slt. R.M.D.H.S. Rathnayake and an Army signalman A.M. Tissa Abeykoon went missing in the attack.

The crew list of - Dvora-P-418:- EALP Edirisinghe, RMDHS Rathnayake, DW Premalal, PLGS Kumara, MATSL Perera, DMPGS Wickramathilake, TBC Kumara, HNG Nelson, TN Priyanandana, MCK Dissanayake, DDP Kumara, AMAN Bandara, RMDS Rathnayake, RAR Kumara, SHJ Sanjeewa, MMCK Bandara, EACP Edirisinghe and AM Tissa Abeykoon. Meanwhile, wreckage of a vessel was also found at the site where the incident occured.

The wreckage was found with four outboard engines and they were believed to be fitted on a LTTE fast attack craft.


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