India blows up LTTE vessel, Lankan Govt happy | world | Hindustan Times
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India blows up LTTE vessel, Lankan Govt happy

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In contrast to trenchant criticism in a section of the press in Colombo, the Sri Lankan government is happy that India blew up an explosive-laden LTTE suicide boat.

"They had no option but to blow it up," said Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona reacting to a report in The Island daily on Saturday, that the blowing up was a "mysterious" affair, that Colombo had rejected the Indian claims about the boat's mission and had called for joint naval patrolling.

"The Foreign Ministry is not considering any such action," Dr Kohona told Hindustan Times on Saturday.

The boat, with some LTTE suicide cadres and two Indian nationals on board, and heavily lined with a mixture of TNT and RDX, was caught by the Indian Coast Guard off Point Calimere in south Tamil Nadu on February 13.

On February 20, after investigations and due legal process, it was blown up 20 nautical miles off Chennai , as it was a grave security risk.

The Indian authorities and the Tamil Nadu police said that the boat was on a mission to strike a Sri Lankan harbour, probably Kankesanthurai in Jaffna in the north.

It was because it ran into a Sri Lankan naval patrol in Sri Lankan waters that it turned back into Indian waters, where it was caught by the Indian Coast Guard.

Indian officials also said that 15 LTTE suicide boats were hovering around Sri Lanka waiting for an opportunity to strike targets in the island.

But these claims were questioned by Sri Lankans who wanted to go by the original Indian theory that the target was an Indian leader or installation, rather than a Sri Lankan one, as the boat was seized in Indian waters.

Many Sri Lankans had seen in this theory a good chance to show New Delhi that India too was in danger from the LTTE and that it should take the sternest measures to destroy the menace.

The later finding that the boat's mission was aimed at a Sri Lankan target, had come as a disappointment here.

The Island quoted un-named Sri Lankan officials as saying that the blowing up was under "mysterious circumstances" and that the claim about the 15 explosives- laden boats was a "blatant lie."

If the latter claim had a basis, India should hunt down the boats and destroy them, one official said.

A Sri Lankan shipping expert even charged that the story of suicide boats hovering around the island was India's insidious way preventing international shipping from using Sri Lankan harbours!

Another un-named Sri Lankan official had told the paper that the 34 ft trawler with a maximum speed of 10 knots could never have been used for a suicide attack as suicide boats were typically smaller and capable of cruising at 40 knots.

And Colombo or Kankesanthurai could not have been targets because these were high security zones with no possibility of slow moving fishing trawlers or any fishing vessel piercing through the naval cordon, he said.