Tuesday, January 10, 2006
At least 15 Sri Lankan Sailors were killed and two others injured when their gunboat was blown up in a suspected suicide attack by Tamil Tiger rebels, the military said. The patrol craft was blown up off the northeastern port of Trincomalee before dawn when an explosives-filled fishing boat rammed against it, a top military official said. Fifteen Sailors, including two officers, were killed, and two others were fished from the water after the Israeli-built Dvora-class gunboat sank, the official said, adding that a search was still on for the wreckage.
“Two Sailors who escaped with injuries were picked up by a military rescue boat,” the officer said. Tamil Tiger guerrillas are known to have carried out suicide attacks against dozens of naval craft in the past using small boats packed with explosives. The attack was the first sinking of a high-powered naval gunboat since a Norwegian-brokered truce between Colombo and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) went into effect from February 2002. Three sailors aboard a smaller naval patrol craft were killed 16 days ago in a sea battle with rebels off the northwestern town of Mannar. The Tigers accused the navy of attacking them first and maintained they acted in self-defence. However, Scandinavian truce monitors said the rebels had violated the fragile ceasefire. There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers to the latest attack against the navy, which added to a string of losses suffered by the security forces since last month when violence spiked in the island’s troubled northeast. In April 1995, the Tigers infiltrated the main naval harbour in Trincomalee, located 260 kilometres northeast of the capital Colombo, and blasted two craft that were anchored there.