COLOMBO, May 10 (Xinhua) -- A Naval logistics vessel was blasted and sunk by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka's eastern port of Trincomalee early Saturday, hours before the local elections, said the military.
Navy Spokesman D. K. P. Dassanayake said a cargo vessel named A520 was damaged and sank in an underwater explosion at Trincomaleeharbor, about 270 km northeast of the capital Colombo, around 2.15a.m. (2045 GMT Friday).
Dassanayake said there was no direct evidence to show it was carried out by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), "but in Sri Lanka no other organizations would make this kind of attack."
Dassanayake said the vessel was berthed at the Ashroff Jetty at the time of the incident and had only a skeleton crew on board for routine operational purposes.
The crew suffered no casualties and no other properties were damaged due to the explosion, the spokesman said.
The 70-meter vessel was built in 1971 and handed over to the Navy by a court order in 2003.
Pro-LTTE sources said the naval ship was sunk by the sea wing of the LTTE when the vessel was loaded with explosives to be transported to K. K. S. Harbor in the northern Jaffna peninsula.
The incident came just hours before the polls are due to open in Trincomalee, one of the three districts in the Eastern Province.
Ampara and Batticaloa are the other two districts in the multi-ethnic Eastern Province where all three communities Sinhala, Tamiland Muslim enjoy almost equal presence.
An explosion blamed on the LTTE happened in a restaurant in Ampara Friday afternoon, killing 11 civilians and injuring 29 others.
The election for the Eastern Provincial Council is the first in20 years.
The election would appoint 35 members to the newly created provincial council after the province was de-merged from the Northern Province in 2006.
The government treated Saturday's election as a test of its popularity after it regained the Eastern Province from the Tamil Tigers' control in July last year.
Government troops were currently engaged with LTTE rebels in the north with the aim of crushing the group before the end of 2008.
Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese government, the LTTE has been fighting against the government since the mid-1980s to establish an independent homeland for Tamilminorities, resulting in the death of more than 70,000 people in the island.