|Sunday, 8 January 2006|
by Jayampathy Jayasinghe and Rashomi Silva
In one of the worst attacks, LTTE's Sea Tigers blew up a Sri Lankan Naval vessel, a Dvora Fast Attack Craft in the seas off Foul Point, Trincomalee killing 13 sailors. The attack took place around 1.a.m. Two sailors were later rescued from the sea, Defence sources told the "Sunday Observer".
It was suspected that Women Sea Tigers on a suicide mission who arrived in a boat had fired a torpedo at the Fast Attack Craft destroying it in a huge explosion. The deceased Commander of the ill fated vessel has been identified as Lt. Commander Kamal Wanaratne. Meanwhile another naval vessel on duty at sea in close proximity had escaped attack.
Fifteen navy personnel including two officers were on board the ill fated craft and was three nautical miles off Foul Point, when the explosion took place. Two sailors were rescued by the fishermen.
"We believe it was a Tiger suicide mission . The Dvora was completely destroyed ," said Navy Spokesmen Commodore Jayantha Perera, adding that details of the incident were still sketchy. "We are still looking for the 13 missing", he said.
The LTTE were not immediately available for comment but have routinely denied any hand in attacks on the military-which analysts and the government say they cannot believe. Saturday's attack came after 51 military and police personnel were killed in a string of mine attacks in December, the deadliest month since a 2002 ceasefire that diplomats and truce monitors say is strained to breaking point.
According to transmission reports, the suicide LTTE boat has intercepted the Navy patrol craft and blew itself, causing severe damages which resulted in sinking of the Israel built dvora."An LTTE suicide boat emerged through fishing boats and blew itself up, sinking the Navy Patrol Craft between 12. 45 to 1 am yesterday," Military spokesman, Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said. The Dvora gunboat was one of the six, 'Shaldag dvoras' in the possession of the Navy and one of the two Dvora vessels which were on a regular patrol mission in the Eastern seas.
The Military spokesman said the Navy and Air Force had launched a combined operation to rescue possible survivors of the attack, which is the second major Sea Tiger attack on Naval craft. Earlier, three sailors died when armed sea Tigers attacked a Navy patrol boat in the seas off Mannar.
Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Chief Hagrup Haukland said the Ceasefire monitors have contacted the LTTE headquarters in Kilinochchi over the attack, but the LTTE had been non committal "we contacted the LTTE in Kilinochchi and inquired about their involvement. But they have not yet given an answer," Haukland said.
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