The Lanka Academic

JUNE 17, 2006 EST, USA
VOL. 7, NO. 72


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Tamil Tiger rebels attack navy in northwestern Sri Lanka , 6 sailors dead, 25-30 rebels dead
Associated Press, Fri June 16, 2006 23:52 EDT . DILIP GANGULY

Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Tamil Tiger rebels attacked a Sri Lankan navy base Saturday, setting off a naval and helicopter battle that left six soldiers and up to 30 guerrillas dead, and heightening fears of a return to full-scale civil war.

Separately, a group of fishermen captured two suspected Tamil Tiger rebels on an apparent suicide mission Saturday near the capital, Colombo, Deputy Inspector General of Police N.J. Illangakoon and a witness said.

The suspected Tigers tried to commit suicide by swallowing cyanide capsules after they were captured.

The rebels' sea attack took place in the northwest district of Mannar, parts of which are under government control, and where the navy maintains several small bases.

The rebels operate from the jungles and the adjoining rebel stronghold of Mullaittivu.

At least six sailors and 25-30 rebels were killed in the attack, navy spokesman D.L.P. Dassanayake said.

``We destroyed eight of the 11 boats that came for the attack,'' said Dassanayake, adding that each boat usually carries three to four rebel fighters.

Three of the navy's boats were also damaged, he said.

After the attack, the navy called in air force helicopters that also fired on rebel boats, Dassanayake said.

The pro-rebel Web-site TamilNet called the incident a clash between the Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the rebels, and the navy. TamilNet said 30 civilians were wounded in the shooting and hundreds of others have fled the area and taken shelter in churches.

The rebel attack came after Sri Lanka's military unleashed two days of retaliatory strikes Thursday and Friday on Tamil Tiger positions after a bus bombing killed 64 people.

The government blamed the Tigers for the bus attack, the worst single act of violence since a 2002 cease-fire. The rebels denied they were involved and insisted the air and artillery strikes near a key rebel stronghold showed the military was on a war footing.

In the incident near Colombo, witness Paul Jayamaha said he heard two explosions coming from the sea off the coast near Ja-Ela, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) north of Colombo, when he went to buy fish.

``Then I saw two men swimming toward the shore. They were caught by the fishermen,'' he said.

Both men swallowed cyanide capsules, were admitted to a hospital and were in critical condition, police officer Illangakoon said.

Rebels from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam wear cyanide capsules strung around their necks so they can stop the government from capturing them alive and questioning them.

Police recovered oxygen bottles and underwater swimming equipment that washed on shore, Jayamaha said.

The discovery of the equipment and the explosions suggested the men were on a suicide attack mission, Illangakoon said.

The rebels began fighting nearly three decades ago for a separate homeland in the north and the east, where most of the country's 3.2 million Hindu Tamils live, complaining of discrimination by the country's 14 million Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhists.

The struggle intensified after anti-Tamil riots in 1983, and more than 65,000 people were killed before the cease-fire.

Peace talks to build on the truce quickly faltered, and sporadic shootings and bombings in and around Tiger strongholds have in the past four years built into near-daily violence. b>Discuss this story
Published: Sat Jun 17 00:27:43 EDT 2006

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Sea battle kills at least 51 in Sri Lanka  - LBO/AFP
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Tamil Tiger rebels attack navy in northwestern Sri Lanka , 6 sailors, 25-30 rebels dead  - Associated Press
Sri Lanka says 20 dead in rebel sea, land clash  - Reuters
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Sri Lanka slides towards civil war as 50 die after Tigers raid, June 17, 2006 - 21:00 EDT. More than 50 people were killed as fighting raged across Sri Lanka's north-western coast yesterday and the island slid inexorably towards full-scale civil war. Witnesses said seven of the victims were civilians killed by government troops while sheltering in a church.

Yesterday's violence began in a dawn raid by Tamil Tiger rebels against the Sri Lankan navy. More than a dozen "Sea Tiger" craft attacked a naval base on the island of Mannar. About 30 Tamil Tigers and 15 naval troops were reportedly killed in the battle, in which eight rebel boats and three government vessels were sunk.

A boy mourns his mother, among 64 killed by a mine

Hours later, Sri Lankan troops stormed a village church where about 200 Tamil civilians were seeking shelter. Witnesses told The Sunday Telegraph that they began shooting indiscriminately and throwing grenades in an assault that killed seven people and injured More...
Published: Sat Jun 17 20:58:46 EDT 2006 Back to the top

Witnesses say Sri Lankan troops fired on civilians; military blames rebels
Associated Press, Sat June 17, 2006 13:06 EDT . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - MANNAR, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan troops stormed a church Saturday where 200 civilians were seeking shelter and opened fire, and then rampaged in the surrounding village, killing five people and wounding dozens more, witnesses said. The surging violence which included the arrest elsewhere of two suspected Tamil Tiger rebels, who tried to kill themselves by swallowing cyanide heightened fears that Sri Lanka - was returning to all-out civil war.

The past several days have seen the worst violence since a cease-fire was signed in 2002 by the government and the Tamil Tigers, who control much of Sri Lanka - 's north and east.

In a hospital in Mannar, near Pesalai, many injured villagers gave near-identical accounts of government security forces indiscriminately shooting into the Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church and then around the village.

``We were all inside the church when the navy and army broke in and opened fire. A grenade was thrown inside through a window,'' said Mariyadas Loggu, 46, who was being treated for hand injuries.

One person died in the church Saturday and four others were shot and killed while returning from fishing, Loggu and other hospitalized villagers said.

An Associated Press reporter at the Mannar hospital counted 47 Pesalai villagers injured in the violence.

The military denied targeting civilians and blamed the latest violence on the rebels, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

``The LTTE has done it. We do not target civilians,'' said Cmdr. D.K.P. Dassanayake, a navy spokesman.

He said the Tigers had stormed the village in 12 boats, firing grenade launchers at a police station near a navy base and the church.

There were conflicting claims of casualties.

The rebels' main Web site said four government naval boats attacked Tiger vessels, and that three of those were sunk, killing 12 soldiers and leaving just two rebels with minor injuries.

Navy officials said the bodies of three sailors were recovered, and eight more were missing. They said up to 30 guerrillas had been killed.

Eight Tiger boats were destroyed, he said. Three navy boats also were damaged, and the military sent in helicopters that fired on the rebel boats, Dassanayake said.

The rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority, claiming discrimination by the country's majority Sinhalese.

The 2002 truce has often been violated, but the past week has seen particularly severe violence, with military airstrikes pounding rebel positions after a bus bombing killed 64 people.

The area of the latest violence is predominantly Tamil but has been largely controlled by the government.

Reporters were unable to reach Pesalai, which was sealed off by government roadblocks.

An international aid worker, who said he had visited Pesalai and interviewed survivors, backed the witnesses' accounts of the violence. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he did not want to hurt relations with the government.

Meanwhile, in Ja-Ela, a coastal area north of Colombo's main port, two men were caught by fishermen when they swam ashore after apparently setting off two explosions at sea, witness Paul Jayamaha said.

The blasts about 10 miles north of Colombo's port caused no apparent damage, and police said they were investigating what target the rebels could have been aiming for. They said they believed the men had been on a suicide mission.

Both men swallowed cyanide capsules in apparent attempts to commit suicide, but they survived and were hospitalized, then handed over to police, said Dr. R.M. Rajamanthri, the hospital's director.

The Tigers often wear cyanide capsules around their necks so they can kill themselves before being captured and interrogated.

Before the 2002 cease-fire, the civil war killed more than 65,000 people in the island nation south of India. Discuss this story
Published: Sat Jun 17 13:48:57 EDT 2006 Back to the top

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Villagers: Sri Lanka military fired on Tamil civilians; military denies charges  - Associated Press
Witnesses: Sri Lankan forces storm village, killing 5 Tamil civilians; military blames Tigers  - Associated Press

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Dozens killen in Sri Lanka as violent clashes break out yet again.
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Tamil Nadu's Sri Lankan refugee camps being inspected
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Sri Lankan judge nominated for 2006 UNESCO peace prize
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LTTE warns of retaliation for aerial bombing, June 17, 2006. The LTTE has "sternly" warned the Sri Lankan government that it may be "forced" to retaliate for the air raids conducted by the Sri Lankan Air Force following the claymore blast in Kebethigollawa on Thursday in which 64 civilians including 15 children were killed... Back to the top

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REFILING: Sri Lanka teeters toward war with sea battle in northwest+
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Sri Lanka says Tigers attack northwest police post
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Karuna blames Tigers for bus blast
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Sri Lanka president remains committed to negotiated peace+
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Civilians main victim of Sri Lanka carnage
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