LTTE arms ship came from Indonesian port
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LTTE arms ship came from Indonesian port

The ship was detected by a friendly foreign Govt, and the intelligence was communicated to the authorities, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2006 17:43 IST

The Sri Lankan Defence spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, said in Colombo on Tuesday, that the LTTE arms ship, which the Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force sunk about 100 nautical miles off Batticaloa in Sri Lanka on Sunday, was coming from an Indonesian port.

The gun runner was detected by a friendly foreign government, and the vital intelligence was communicated to the Sri Lankan authorities, he said.

From the look of the vessel and the explosions, which took place on it, it was evident that it had board a large quantity of artillery shells and SAM missiles, Rambukwella said.

The LTTE's move to equip itself to face the Sri Lankan Air Force in any future military conflict had thus floundered.

The absence of anti-aircraft missiles had been a major chink in the LTTE's armour in the recent series of military operations.

The downed gun runner was of a length of 30 to 35 metres and was armed with two 23 mm double barrel guns.

"The 23 mm guns had kept us engaged for four and half hours," said Commodore DKP Dassanayake, the naval spokesman.

He explained that the under International Maritime Law, the navy of a country could intercept a vessel in international waters and seek its details. And the vessel was obliged to provide the details.

But in the case of the downed LTTE vessel, it did not respond to a call to stop. Instead, it opened fire.

Subjected to heavy fire, the Navy had to call for help from the Trincomalee naval and air bases.

The Air Force's Kfir supersonic aircraft crippled one of the vessel's engines making it a sitting duck for the two Sri Lankan ships and aircraft.

The navy did not plan to recover the sunken armaments because the depth was too much, Com Dassanayake said.

It may be recalled that in 1993, MV Ahat, with the LTTE commander Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu and a large quantity of armaments on board, was sunk by the Indian Navy in the seas off the northern Jaffna coast.

First Published: Sep 19, 2006 17:21 IST