LTTE suicide-boat attack damages one ship off Jaffna coast (Second Lead)

October 22nd, 2008 - 2:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 22 (IANS) A Sri Lankan cargo vessel was damaged when the Tamil Tiger rebels Wednesday carried out a pre-dawn suicide-boat attack targeting two government merchant vessels off the Kankesanthurai harbour in the northern Jaffna peninsula, naval officials here said.Navy spokesman Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake said that three explosives-laden suicide boats of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) targeted merchant ships Ruhuna and Nimalawa, off Kankasanthurai (KKS) harbour at 5.10 a.m. Wednesday.

“One of the suicide boats has exploded in close proximity to Merchant Ship Nimalawa causing considerable damage to the ship’s hull,” Commander Dassanayake said, claiming that these two merchant vessels were deployed to transport essential supplies to the northern Jaffna peninsula.

He said that the sailors providing security on board the targeted vessels “have engaged machine gun fire at the approaching suicide boats effectively, and destroyed two of them before ramming on the ships.”

He said that the third LTTE suicide craft had been captured by the navy patrol boats.

There was no immediate reaction from the rebels in this regard.

Ministry of Defence described the latest attack as a “cowardly attempt by the terrorists to deny essential supplies to the civilians living in war affected areas”.

The LTTE suicide attack on Sri Lanka’s merchant supply vessels came amid intense fighting between the advancing government troops and the rebels in the north.

“Troops thrashed LTTE battle formations and pushed ahead, amidst heavy resistance and torrential monsoon rains, from areas north-east of Nachchikuda and from the edges at Akkarayankulam tank in Kilinochchi,” the defence ministry said.

It said that the weekend clashes have left heavy casualties on both sides with military capturing fresh rebel-held territories in the northern Kilinochchi area.

In May this year, the LTTE attacked and sank one of Sri Lankan navy’s logistic supply vessels while it was birthed in the heavily-guarded Eastern Trincomalee harbour.

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