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 Post subject: 12 Tiger boats sunk , at least 75 Tigers killed
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:46 pm 
Sri Lanka says 12 Tiger boats sunk in naval clash

"It was a major attack. There were 20 rebel boats. We were able to destroy 12 LTTE craft, including five LTTE suicide boats," a military spokesman told Reuters. "They were humiliated in their so-called seas and withdrew." He said he believed at least 75 Tigers had been killed.

@ Reuters-India
Sat Sep 2, 2006 12:25 PM IST
By Simon Gardner


COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's navy sank 12 Tamil Tiger craft overnight in a naval battle off the island's northern tip and dozens of rebels, including suicide fighters, are believed to have been killed, the military said on Saturday.

The clash at sea near the besieged army-held Jaffna peninsula comes amid five weeks of intense fighting after four years of ceasefire, and as the army seeks to wrest control of rebel territory near a strategic port in the island's northeast.

"It was a major attack. There were 20 rebel boats. We were able to destroy 12 LTTE craft, including five LTTE suicide boats," a military spokesman told Reuters. "They were humiliated in their so-called seas and withdrew."

He said he believed at least 75 Tigers had been killed, but there was no independent confirmation. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not immediately available for comment.

The military spokesman said two sailors were injured and two navy fast-attack boats were slightly damaged by gunfire in the battle, which raged through the night and into the early hours of Saturday.

He believed the Tiger flotilla had been seeking to attack a northern naval base at Kankasanturai (KKS) on the Jaffna peninsula, which is cut off from the rest of the island by rebel lines and where there are severe food shortages.

"I feel like they were doing something to disrupt KKS to damage supply lines to the north," he said.

The army is trying to take the Tiger-held town of Sampur, where the rebels are in artillery range of a major naval base in the northeastern harbour of Trincomalee and able to disrupt a key maritime supply route to Jaffna.

Fourteen soldiers have been killed and 92 wounded since that offensive began on Sunday. The army estimates around 120 rebels were killed. The Tigers were not immediately reachable.

The military said Jaffna itself was quiet after days of artillery battles, and residents - thousands of whom want to evacuate to Colombo after weeks being trapped in the enclave - were hopeful civilian flights would soon resume to the capital.


"A CURSE"

Airline Aerolanka said 5,000 people in Jaffna had asked for seats on flights. Other residents are just trying to get by.

"It looks as though this is a never-ending war," said mother-of-three Sarojini Rajadurai, 38, whose husband was killed in a motorbike accident last year and supplements her widow's pension by renting out rooms in her house to university students.

"I feel there is a curse on the Tamil community - and for that matter on Sri Lanka," she added. "We face food shortages, military roundups, fighting..."

Reporters Without Borders, meanwhile, voiced concern at the abduction of another Tamil media worker just days after a Tamil journalist was kidnapped and later released. Several Tamil journalists have been killed so far this year.

The government is preparing to send a second shipment of food aid and emergency supplies to Jaffna. The vessel is expected to sail on Sunday.

But humanitarian workers say the government is hampering the delivery of supplies, such as medicines, to rebel areas.

"We are being denied proper access to LTTE areas by the security forces and the government," said one aid worker.

Diplomats see little real effort by either side to de-escalate the violence, and while the 2002 truce still technically holds on paper, they expect a war that has killed more than 65,000 people since 1983 to rumble on.

President Mahinda Rajapakse has flatly ruled out the Tigers' demands for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east, and the Tigers vow to continue their struggle until they achieve it.



20 LTTE boats sink in Lanka sea battle

The government military spokesman said that the battle began at about 8 pm on Friday, and lasted till 3.15 am on Saturday. The Sri Lankan navy was supported by shore based batteries, he added.

@ HT / PK Balachandran
Colombo, September 2, 2006


Twenty LTTE boats, including five suicide craft, were sunk, and 80 Sea Tiger cadres killed, in a seven-hour battle off Point Pedro in Jaffna over Friday and Saturday, the Sri Lankan military said.

The LTTE, on its part, claimed that it had sunk two Dvora Fast Attack Craft of the Sri Lankan Navy, and damaged another.

The government military spokesman said that the battle began at about 8 pm on Friday, and lasted till 3.15 am on Saturday.

The Sri Lankan navy was supported by shore based batteries, he added.

The spokesman said that two Dvora Fast attack craft of the navy were slightly damaged and two sailors were wounded.

Relief supplies can't be moved by sea

The naval engagement in the Point Pedro-Kankesanthurai area means that the sea route for bringing essential supplies and relief for the people of the Jaffna peninsula from Colombo cannot be used.

A relief vessel with 3,800 tonnes of food and medicines on board was to leave Colombo for Point Pedro on Saturday.

The journey might have to be postponed indefinitely, observers said.

LTTE had objected to sea transport

The LTTE had already objected to transporting relief supplies by sea.

It had told the Sri Lankan government through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday, that it would not allow the sea route to be used for transporting supplies even if the ship was cleared and escorted by the ICRC or any other neutral agencies.

The LTTE said that it feared that relief carrying vessels could carry munitions for the Sri Lankan military garrisons in the Jaffna peninsula.

The militant group had no means to find out for itself if the vessels were carrying nothing but civilian relief supplies.

As an alternative, the LTTE offered to open the land route, the A9 highway linking Vavuniya with Jaffna through territory controlled by it in the Wanni.

The advantage in this for the LTTE is that it can look at the contents of the lorries at its checkpoints in Omanthai and Muhamalai.

Political observers say that by insisting on the land route, the LTTE can resume collecting taxes and other levies from those using the road.

After the closure of the A9, the LTTE has lost million of rupees in revenue.

The naval incident of Friday-Saturday might have been staged to prevent sea movement, military observers said.

Food shortage in Jaffna may worsen

Given the naval incidents off Point Pedro and the LTTE's refusal to let government relief ships use the sea route, the people of the Jaffna peninsula, numbering about 200,000, wonder if they would have to starve after a week or ten days.

"The stocks we now have can last only about a week or 10 days," KM Nathan, a resident said over the phone.

"We are in for a major crisis," he added.

The fighting in Jaffna, which began on August 11, had created 25,000 refugees. These depend on the state for their daily food.

Influx into India might increase

The population of Jaffna cannot run away from the peninsula, because the land route to the LTTE-held area of the Wanni is closed due to the military operations.

There are no air services, though the Palaly airport has been re-opened to civilian traffic. Private sector airlines, the only airlines to provide civilian air services to Jaffna, are too scared to fly.

Fleeing to India only option for many

The only alternative for the desperate Jaffna man may be to escape to India by boat.

And not surprisingly, about 11,000 of them have already landed in Tamil Nadu and are housed in refugee camps in Mandapam in south Tamil Nadu.

Though the camps in Tamil Nadu are filthy and over-crowded, the refugees see them as being better than war-affected North Sri Lanka, because what is at stake is life itself.


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