Sri Lankan Navy destroys rebel arms ship 2007-10-07 21:09:59   Print

    COLOMBO, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan Navy completely destroyed the 10th and possibly the largest vessel of the Tamil Tigers Sunday morning at about 1700 km southeast of the southern tip of the island country.

    The Navy spokesman D. K. P. Dassanayake said the rebel ship, "Matsusima," weighed 3000 tons and around 70 meters in length, was believed to carry artillery ammunition, electronic warfare equipment, geographical positioning systems and other war-like materials.

    Three naval vessels detected the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) ship by radar and tracked for nearly one and a half days and visually detected it early morning at around 5:30 local time (2400 GMT), Dassanayake said.

    "After repeated warnings to stop the vessel, the naval vessels fired a few warning shots across the bows of the said vessel. However, they then started firing towards the naval ships, leaving no alternative for the Navy other than to open fire to sink the ship," said the spokesman.

    The LTTE ship, sunk at about 9:30 a.m. (0400 GMT), might be the largest ever ship of the rebel group and probably the last according to available intelligence, Dassanayake said.

    He said this was the 10th LTTE ship destroyed by the Navy since March 2003 and the 8th rebel ship destroyed in the last 13 months.

    "This loss to the LTTE would completely cripple the LTTE's supply of illegally smuggled weaponry and explosives along international waters," said Dassanayake.

    The vessel was the same type of three vessels destroyed by the Navy on Sept. 10.

    The Navy claimed that the three destroyed vessels had carried a large amount of fire arms and ammunition to the rebels, including a bullet proof vehicle for their reclusive leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

    The Sept. 10 action was dubbed by Rear Admiral Vasantha Karannagoda, the chief of the Navy, as the greatest victory in the history of Sri Lanka Navy in its over three decades battle against the LTTE.

    Claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhala majority, the LTTE has been fighting the government since the mid-1980s to establish a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and east.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang
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