Tamil Tiger boat suspected of carrying arms destroyed, military says
Tue October 31, 2006 11:31 EST .
Associated Press Writer
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ The Sri Lankan navy on Tuesday destroyed a boat suspected of transporting arms and ammunition for Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's north, the military said.
``One of the LTTE boats bringing arms and ammunition was destroyed,'' military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said, referring to the rebels by the acronym of their formal name, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
He said the navy spotted a suspicious boat near Talaimannar seas, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of the capital, Colombo and when it defied an order to stop the navy fired and destroyed the boat, he said.
A powerful explosion that came from the boat suggested that there was ammunition inside, Samarasinghe said.
There were no independent details of the incident and there was no immediate report on casualties.
Earlier Tuesday suspected rebels detonated a roadside bomb in the northern town of Vavuniya, killing a Sri Lankan government soldier and wounding three others, Samarasinghe said.
He said that the Tigers have also launched sporadic shell attacks on a two main military camps in eastern Batticaloa district.
The violence came amid rebel claims that the government was planning a major offensive against them in the wake of stalled peace talks held over the weekend in Geneva, raising fears of a return of a full-scale hostilities.
``The Sri Lanka government is planning to launch a big offensive attack toward (the Tamil held area of) Elephant Pass, and to capture Kilinochchi, the capital of the LTTE,'' rebel official Severathnam Puleedevan told The Associated Press on Monday.
Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella on Tuesday called the rebel claim of an impending offensive ``propaganda.''
``We do not have a planned offensive on our table, but if our forces are attacked we will retaliate,'' Rambukwella told The Associated Press. ``The talk of a major offensive by us is propaganda by the LTTE,'' Rambukwella said.
The talks in Geneva, aimed at salvaging a 2002 cease-fire and halting more than two decades of conflict, failed after the government rejected a Tiger demand to reopen a key highway that connects the Tamil-dominated northern Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the country.
But the government said Tuesday it was willing to reopen the highway provided the rebels stop acts of violence.
``The closure of A-9 is not permanent and we are willing to reopen it provided the LTTE gives security guarantees and stops acts of hostility,'' Nimal Siripala De Silva, who headed the government delegation at the talks, told a news conference in Colombo.
There was no immediate comment from the rebels on the government's conditions.
The government offered during the talks to set up a sea delivery route, saying it would cheaper and safer, claiming the rebels themselves hamper deliveries by threatening and extorting those using the road. But the rebels rejected the offer.
The Tamil Tigers began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the cease-fire.
Discuss this story
Published: Tue Oct 31 13:30:11 EST 2006