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 Post subject: Sri Lanka rebels forced way onto Jordan ship - crew
 Post Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 6:15 pm 
Sri Lanka rebels forced way onto Jordan ship - crew

"They ordered us to leave the ship, they fired four shots to make us jump into boats," Jabbar, flanked by Sri Lankan navy officials, said. One of the crew, Shareef, who came to the conference in a wheelchair, said he was injured in the back after the rebels forced him into a boat.

December 26, 2006
©Boston Globe /Reuters


Image

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels fired shots in the air and forced their way onto a Jordanian cargo ship that strayed into waters near a rebel stronghold in the north, the vessel's captain said on Tuesday.

Two of the 25-member crew suffered injuries when they were ordered off the stricken Farah III and pushed into boats by the rebels, Ramiz Abdul Jabbar told a news conference.

Jabbar and his crew were brought to Colombo by the Red Cross on Monday after they were freed by the rebels, two days after their ship's engines failed, leaving it adrift off the Mullaittivu coast.

The rebels said they had come to the crew's rescue after the ship began drifting in rough seas.

The ship, carrying a cargo of rice from India to South Africa, has become the latest flashpoint in fighting between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan military, which accused the rebels of piracy and planned a rescue operation.

"They ordered us to leave the ship, they fired four shots to make us jump into boats," Jabbar, flanked by Sri Lankan navy officials, said.

One of the crew, Shareef, who came to the conference in a wheelchair, said he was injured in the back after the rebels forced him into a boat.

"There were no seats in the boats, I was hit by the water when it moved," he said.

Jabbar said six armed men boarded his ship. "They had explosives, they said they wanted to blow up the anchor," he said.

Once the crew, a mix of Jordanians and Egyptians were brought ashore, they were given food, water and clothes, he added.

The ship has since run aground, some three miles off the coast, its owners said. "We want our ship back, we want the cargo but this can only be done by governments," said Jemal Alzeghari, a representative of the shipping company. He put the value of the ship and its cargo at $10 to $12 million.

The spat comes at a time when the Tigers, fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the east and north, are locked in daily artillery duels with the military.

The violence has killed more than 3,000 people so far this year and forced thousands to flee


© Copyright 2006 Reuters / ©Boston Globe / © The New York Times Company


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