23 Sea Tigers killed as Sri Lankan Navy foils suicide attack (Lead)

May 1st, 2009 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, May 1 (IANS) At least 23 Sea Tigers were killed and three of their boats were destroyed when the Sri Lankan Navy foiled a LTTE suicide attack on its vessels patrolling off the Mullaitivu coast in the early hours of Friday, authorities said.
The authorities said that naval troops guarding the Mullaitivu sea waters engaged a cluster of Sea Tiger boats, including two explosives-laden suicide boats, when they were heading to attack the naval patrol crafts deployed in the area around 1 a.m. Friday.

“Two suicide craft laden with high explosives and one (other) enemy attack craft were completely destroyed by the naval gun fire, killing 23 Sea Tiger cadres,” the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

Sea Tigers are the naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which is facing an unprecedented military thrust in its last stronghold in the north-eastern Mullaitivu district.

Sri Lanka said that naval fortifications have been tightened with multiple defence barriers consisting of Offshore Patrol Vessels, Fast Gun Boats, Fast Attack Craft, the Rapid Action Boat Squadron and the Special Boat Squadron.

“Continuous shore-based radar surveillance is also being carried out in order to complement naval units to prevent remaining LTTE cadres from launching desperate attacks on the troops and to cut off the fleeing attempts of Tiger leaders trapped in the no-fire-zone (NFZ).”

The military says that the LTTE has now been cornered into a small coastal land strip of less than ten sq km and the Tamil Tigers face an inevitable defeat.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday ruled out halting the ongoing fight-to-finish military campaign against Tamil Tigers, and said that the time is running out for the rebels and their leaders have to surrender.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry said that the official website of the Sri Lankan Army, www.army.lk “has been hacked by suspected LTTE hackers this morning (May 1)”.

“The webmaster of the army called the attack a desperate bid by the LTTE propagandists to hold the truth on humanitarian mission being revealed to the world,” it said, adding that measures were being taken to restore the website soon.

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