Lankan navy reinforcing bases after LTTE attacks | india | Hindustan Times
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Lankan navy reinforcing bases after LTTE attacks

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 10:39 IST

The Sri Lankan navy said on Thursday it was reinforcing its bases and increasing sea patrols a day after Tamil Tiger rebels clashed near a naval base in the northwest, killing 17 combatants.

"We are taking extra measures to guard against further terrorist attacks," navy spokesman, DKP Dassanayae said.

On Wednesday, naval vessels backed by helicopter gunships repulsed a guerrilla attack and sank two rebel boats in waters of the village of Kalpitiya, about 140 kms northwest of the capital, Colombo.

The 45-minute encounter left 12 rebels and five sailors dead, Dassanayke said.

However, the rebels said only one guerrilla died and that the rebels killed seven sailors and sank one boat. The discrepancy in the casualty figures could not be immediately reconciled.

The rebel began fighting in 1983 to carve out a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million ethnic Tamil minority.

A ceasefire halted the conflict in 2002, but subsequent peace talks broke down and a recent spike in attacks has put the truce on the verge of collapse.

The rebels,who control parts of Sri Lanka's northeast, say they have the right to use the adjoining sea and will not tolerate intrusions into what they call their territorial waters.

The government disagrees and the issue of sea rights has been at the heart of deteriorating relations between the rebels and the government.

Dassanayake said the navy was boosting security at its bases but would not elaborate further.