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Tiger vessel blown up in Sri Lanka

A Tamil Tiger merchant ship blew up and sank with its crew aboard off Sri Lanka today as the navy fired warning shots to halt the vessel, defence officials said.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2003 10:55 IST

A Tamil Tiger merchant ship blew up and sank with its crew aboard off Sri Lanka today as the navy fired warning shots to halt the vessel, defence officials said.

The vessel belonging to the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was being towed by a smaller boat when the navy confronted them, Defence Secretary Austin Fernando said.

He said the navy had told him that the smaller craft had taken off leaving the ship behind in high seas. The crew of the ship had blasted the vessel before the navy could board it, Fernando said.

He said the incident was reported to the Scandinavian truce monitoring team.

There was no immediate reaction from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but rebel sources said that the navy had attacked the ship in international waters.

On March 10, there was a similar incident in which Sri Lankan gunboats sank a Tiger merchant vessel allegedly smuggling weapons into the island.

A ceasefire between government forces and the rebels does not extend to action at sea where there had been several clashes between Tiger boats and the navy.

First Published: Jun 14, 2003 10:55 IST