LTTE ’suicide boat’ recovered after fierce gun-battle: Lanka

December 14th, 2008 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 14 (IANS) Sri Lankan ground troops operating in the coastal forest district of Mullaitivu fought fierce gunbattles with Tamil Tiger rebels and recovered a “suicide boat” during a subsequent search, the military said here Sunday.The military authorities said that a fierce gunbattle broke at Kumulamunai in the rebel heartland of Mullaitivu Saturday and lasted nearly two hours, and the rebels suffered “heavy damages” during the confrontation.

“Troops sustained minor damages. Troops recovered a boat, to be used in a suicide attack, during a search operation conducted in the same area,” the military said Sunday, adding that similar confrontations also took place in the adjoining areas Saturday.

The Sea Tigers, the naval unit of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), used to deploy explosive-laden suicide boats to strike moving military targets in the northern and eastern seas.

The military also said that a group of 18 civilians, including five women and a four-year-old boy, had fled the LTTE-held areas and “reached Palampai area controlled by the 59 Division of the army” in the Mullaitivu district Sunday morning “seeking military protection”.

“They are to be sent to the Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) centres after preliminary inquiries,” the military said.

The Sri Lankan government is determined to capture the rebel-held districts of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi and the troops advancing in several directions were said to be operating on the outskirts of Kilinochchi town, 350 km north of here.

The military said that heavy clashes prevailed in the area during the past few days as the LTTE gave heavy resistance to the soldiers inching towards the rebels’ political capital, Kilinochchi.

Sri Lankan Air Force jets carried out at least nine air raids throughout Saturday, “targeting LTTE battlefield fortifications” at Kilinochchi and the adjoining Paranthan areas in support of the advancing ground troops.

There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE, which has been fighting against the Sri Lankan state to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island for a quarter century.

Thousands have died in escalating fighting since late 2005.

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