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 Post subject: LTTE attacks Galle Harbor in South Sri Lanka - 18 Oct 2006
 Post Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:31 pm 
LTTE attacks Galle Harbor in South Sri Lanka

18OCT2006

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels attacked a Sri Lankan navy base and an adjoining port in the southern city of Galle on Wednesday morning.

Suspected LTTE suicide bombers using at least five boats infiltrated Galle's harbour and attacked a key naval base, detonating powerful explosions that killed at least two people and injured 20, officials and the police said. Two of those boats, believed to be manned by suicide bombers exploded inside the naval base.

The attackers who infiltrated Galle were disguised as fishermen, Sri Lanka's defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told agencies, adding, "obviously they have come to Galle on a suicide mission".

Authorities later imposed a curfew on the town, whose idyllic beaches had regained some of their popularity with foreign tourists after Galle was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Sri Lanka on Tuesday said it has `repulsed' the attack by suspected cadres of the LTTE on the Galle harbour and SL Navy camp Dakshina and asserted that it would not be deterred by such acts in the run up to the October 28 and 29 talks with the Tamil Tigers.

In a statement, the military said five sea tiger suicide boats had arrived to attack the Dakshina Naval Base in Galle at 7.45 a.m. "These boats were disguised as normal fishing boats. When the Navy closed up for inspection three boats approached the Naval boats. The Navy Destroyed three suicide boats and the other two approached towards the Galle harbour self detonating at the entrance. One sailor was killed in the incident while 11 were injured. One sailor is missing in action. The situation has been brought under control," it said.

Separately the Government said security forces have foiled LTTE attack on the Dakshina Naval Base in Galle and taken immediate action to destroy three LTTE crafts. "All essential steps to safeguard the Naval Base have been taken and the Government appeals to the people not to be misled by the false rumours," it said.

Giving details of the incident the Government said three LTTE craft in the guise of fishing boats have attempted to enter the area through the Naval checking point of fishing trawlers. The naval patrol boats fired at the LTTE boats destroying one of them immediately. Two other boats later blew themselves causing damages to two in-shore patrol craft (fibre glass water jets).

The latest attack came even as the country is yet to recover from the attack near Habarana two days ago in which 130 navy personnel were killed and 100 others injured. LTTE appears to have stepped up its offensive against the Sri Lanka military ahead of the talks scheduled in Switzerland in the last week of October.


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 Post subject: Tiger bid to blast Galle Naval base foiled
 Post Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:09 am 
Tiger bid to blast Galle Naval base foiled

@ News Agencies / Oct 2006

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An LTTE suicide squad attack on the Southern Naval base ‘Dhakshina’ in Galle, at around 7.45 a.m. on 18th of October 2006, was foiled by the Navy. Five Tiger suicide craft reached the entrance to the Galle Harbour posing as of fishing boats, but the Navy acted swiftly to destroy them. All LTTE suicide cadres on board were killed.

One sailor and a civilian were killed and 24 injured in the attack. The civilian had died due to shock. The injured are being treated at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, Galle. Among them are 14 sailors, hospital sources said. An Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC), a coastal patrol boat, a Dvora Fast Attack Craft (FAC) and the non operational sub chaser SLNS Parakrama were damaged. Two oil tanks and two buildings were also damaged. The Navy claimed they had killed 15 guerrillas.


A day before the attack, Special Task Force personnel in the Ampara district spotted a flotilla of unknown boats heading south. The boats were too far from shore to fire on, and they did not make any hostile move towards shore. As the STF sent out the alert to the rest of the armed forces, other bases along the coast south of Panama tracked the suspicious fleet. The boats sailed in full view of fishing craft gathered in the area.

However, there were no navy craft in the area which could intercept the Sea Tigers. Neither did the SLAF launch an attack. When darkness fell, the Sea Tiger flotilla was lost to view. However, Army, Navy and Police units moved out, ready to take on the Tigers if they landed on the coast in the Yala areas.

It was still not certain what the LTTE’s intentions were. Some officers guessed that the Tigers were expecting an arms shipment off Yala, and these boats would carry the cargo back to LTTE areas in the Batticaloa district. Others voiced the possibility of an attack on a target in the south. One of the most likely targets was Galle, where the navy has a considerable installation, and there are always warships undergoing repairs and overhauls.

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Throughout the night, armed forces and police units in the Ampara, Hambantota, Matara, and Galle districts waited at the ready.

At SLSNS Dakshina in Galle, the navy’s main base in the south, the entire camp was at the highest level of preparedness — "Action Stations". Every person there carried a weapon of some sort, ready to repel any attack.

Yet, for some strange reason, the attack, wherever it would take place, was expected in the darkness.

When dawn broke, shortly before 6 a.m, the Action Stations situation was lifted in Dakshina. Exhausted sailors who had been up all night, gratefully climbed into their bunks for some rest. However, there were sufficient lookouts scanning the sea.

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To everyone’s horror, at 7.35 a.m., the Sea Tiger craft appeared, racing towards the base. Why the lookouts failed to identify them early as Sea Tiger boats is still not clear. The navy officially claimed that they had approached in the guise of fishing craft. But this is hardly an excuse. After 24 years of war and 17 years of Sea Tiger operations, the navy is quite adept at spotting Sea Tiger craft, which routinely hide among fishing fleets.

The five-boat flotilla was immediately engaged with heavy gunfire. But they were already too close.

Two Black Sea Tiger boats blasted themselves against the hull of the SLNS Parakramabahu, a sub-chaser type heavy gunboat that was tied up at the base.

In fact, Parakramabahu had turned out to be white elephant after its purchase under dubious circumstances in 1994 from China, seeing little action. In the mid and late nineties, this ship was the most modern warship in the navy, and had been targeted by the Sea Tigers. The top brass had been so afraid of losing it that it rarely saw action, and usually sailed in the company of other gunboats and Dvoras.

With the purchase of several larger vessels from India and Israel at the turn of the millennium, Parakramabahu became less important. When the tsunami struck in December 2004, it sank to bottom of the Galle harbour. The navy recovered it a few months later, but it was not in a condition to be repaired, and a decision was being awaited as to what to do with the rotting hulk when the Tigers struck this week.

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Parakramabahu caught fire, and was gutted. But it is indeed fortunate that the Tigers targeted this ship. A heavy gunboat that was also at the base, much more valuable to the navy as it is an operational one, was not attacked, and suffered no damage.

As the fighting raged, the other three LTTE craft were shot to pieces, but not before three more navy craft were destroyed — two small Inshore Patrol Craft and a Coastal Patrol Craft, all of them locally built small vessels.

In the first few minutes of fighting, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fired by the Tigers scored a direct hit on the diesel storage tank in the base, and a plume of black smoke billowed upwards into the sky. The loss of this tank is not considered serious, since there are other oil storage facilities in Galle that the navy can use, and it will be replaced quickly. However, the smoke caused a panicky Galle public to believe that the situation was much worse than it was.

Amid the confused situation, navy officers were unsure as to exactly how many Sea Tiger craft had been involved, and Dvoras that rushed down from Colombo began sweeping the surrounding seas. However, if there were any such craft which escaped out to sea, they were not found. In fact, it is not likely that the Sea Tigers would have tried to escape. Having come a very long way from the East coast, they were definitely all of them Black Sea Tigers, who had no intention of trying to get back.


For the rest of the day, navy and army troops (who had rushed to Dakshina from Boosa) were involved in a search operation on land to locate any Tigers who had got away on foot. But they found none. The next morning, the bodies of four Black Sea Tigers, among those who had manned the three boats which were shot and destroyed, washed ashore and were spotted by fishermen and recovered.

Navy Spokesman Commander D. K. P. Dassanayke said "Our men had spotted five LTTE craft which had come near the port, mingling with the fishing boats, speeding towards ‘Dhakshina’ the Southern Naval base in Galle. The sailors acted swiftly and destroyed three of them before they neared the harbour. The other two were destroyed while entering the port. There were five explosions as the LTTE suicide craft were destroyed."

Dassanayake denied rumours that the LTTE fired Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) from the nearby Rumassala Hill which is on the southern flank of the Naval base. "They cannot fire RPGs from such a long distance" he said. The Tigers had fired RPG’s from their craft before they were destroyed, he said. Asked about a bigger LTTE vessel disappearing in the sea when the smaller boats were attacked, he dismissed the suggestion. There were many vessels in and around the area but they couldn’t have come on the LTTE mission, he said.

For such a spectacular operation, running the gauntlet for hundreds of miles along the Eastern and Southern coastlines, the Sea Tigers did not achieve much in material terms. The loss of the two Inshore Patrol Craft and the Coastal Patrol Craft are not particularly serious as they are locally built and are not very costly. The destruction of the tsunami-wrecked Parakramabahu is of no significance at all.

This column exclusively pointed out as far back as 2000, that a naval force should be maintained off Yala, as the Tigers were bringing weapons ashore in that area and transporting them northwards by land. However, the navy, heavily committed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, and also having to guard the West coast from Mannar to Kalpitiya, Chilaw, Negombo and Colombo, did not do so.

In this context, with no naval force available to intercept them, the passage of the Sea Tiger squadron down the Southern coast is less remarkable. However, the attack has had a profound psychological effect on public sentiment, who view it as a failure on the part of the armed forces to protect the South.


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