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 Post subject: LTTE arms transport ship sunk
 Post Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:00 am 
LTTE arms transport ship sunk

"The ship has gone down. We have found more than 10,000 artillery rounds of 120-152 mm in the sea," said Navy spokesman, Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake. He said the 70-75-meter-long ship caught fire after the Navy returned rebel fire about 350 kms south of the southern port of Galle.

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Copyright © The China Post / 2007/3/1
By Ranga Sirilal COLOMBO, Reuters


Sri Lanka's navy sank a large ship on Wednesday it said was transporting artillery shells for Tamil Tiger rebels and that the blazing vessel and its crew disappeared under the waves after a series of explosions.

The incident took place in Sri Lankan waters off the southern coast and away from international shipping lanes, and came after a series of land and sea clashes over the past year that marked a new chapter in the two-decade civil war.

"The ship has gone down. We have found more than 10,000 artillery rounds of 120-152 mm in the sea," said Navy spokesman, Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake. "We have found no dead bodies. They must have burnt. Everything has gone down."

He said the 70-75-meter-long ship caught fire after the Navy returned rebel fire about 190 nautical miles (350 kms) south of the southern port of Galle.

The Tigers were not immediately available for comment.

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The incident came after the Navy said it sank two small Tiger vessels in a clash off the northeast coast overnight that killed around 15 Tiger fighters.

It also comes a day after the Tigers slightly injured the Italian and U.S. ambassadors and the United Nations representative to Sri Lanka when the rebels shelled a delegation of diplomats led by the island's human rights minister to the restive east.

The Tigers say they did not know the ambassadors were aboard helicopters they fired at in the eastern district of Batticaloa, and said they were provoked by army fire. The military accused the Tigers of trying to assassinate the diplomats.

"The Tigers, being severely beaten by the security forces in the east, had shown their desperation once again by trying to assassinate high level foreign diplomats by shelling at them with mortars," the Media Center for National Security said in a statement overnight.

It is believed to be the first time Western envoys have been caught up in the conflict since the rebels began fighting for a separate state in 1983.

But there have been a spate of similar situations in recent months, when the Tigers shelled journalists taken to the northern frontline and the military shelled the head of the island's Nordic truce monitors when he visited Tiger territory.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Tuesday's attack. But the foes have repeatedly ignored international calls to halt a conflict that has killed around 68,000 people over the past two decades -- 4,000 in the past 15 months alone.

"The attack was in total disregard for the lives of civilians, humanitarian workers, government officials and the international community," Ban said through his spokeswoman Michele Montas overnight, urging both sides to resume talks.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's government has vowed to unveil a power-sharing proposal within weeks, but has rejected the Tigers' demands for a separate homeland and analysts fear the war could rumble on for years.


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