Sri Lanka navy arrests 19 Indian fishermen

May 16th, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, May 16 (IANS) The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested 19 Indian fishermen on charges of poaching in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters. The authorities here suspect the fishermen have also “smuggled in something” for the Tamil Tigers, a military spokesperson said. “We have arrested 19 Indian fishermen with three dhows off Thalaimannar on Thursday. This time the issue is very serious because they were arrested while returning from the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) held territories such as Devil Point and Palaitivu,” said navy spokesperson Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake.

Pointing out that India had banned fishing “during this breeding season”, he said the fishermen had “violated rules and regulations of their own land”.

“We strongly suspect that they might have smuggled in something for the LTTE,” Dassanayake told IANS.

The arrested Indian fishermen were produced before the Mannar magistrate, who has ordered them to be kept in custody till May 22.

According to an Indian diplomat, the Sri Lankan Navy had informed the high commission about the arrest Thursday.

In another development, the defence ministry claimed that Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets bombed an LTTE military base west of Nayaru lagoon Thursday evening.

“The air sorties were carried out targeting the LTTE base located in a jungle patch in Mullaitivu area. The target was accurately hit causing maximum damage to the enemy base,” air force spokesperson Wing Commander Andrew Wijesooriya said.

The defence ministry also claimed that 29 LTTE cadres and a soldier were killed during sporadic clashes on Thursday in the northwestern Mannar and northern Wanni region.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE in this regard.

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