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Tigers assert right to use sea

LTTE's decision to use the sea to transport its cadres is a violation of the truce pact, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 03, 2006 13:16 IST

In a clear bid to escalate confrontation with the Sri Lankan government and avoid going for peace talks in Geneva, the LTTE has decided to use the sea to transport its cadres in its own vessels, and with its own armed escort, in violation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) of February 2002.

An announcement to this effect was made on Tuesday by the LTTE's naval chief, Col Soosai, says the pro-LTTE Tamil website

Unauthorised use of the sea, especially with arms, would be a violation of Art 1.3 of the CFA, spokesman of the Sri Lankan Navy, Com Dassanayake, told Hindustan Times.

Art 1.3 says: "The Sri Lankan armed forces shall continue to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive operations".

This is interpreted to mean that any armed encroachment by the LTTE in areas designated as government-controlled would be deemed a violation of the CFA.

Likewise, any armed encroachment by the Sri Lankan Forces into LTTE-held areas would be a violation of the CFA.

Sea is Govt-controlled area

The sea is considered to be an area under government control and this is recognised by the Scandinavian truce monitors.

Therefore, any Sea Tiger movement would be a violation of the CFA.

Tigers claim successful sea movement

Col Soosai of the LTTE, said on Tuesday that his Fast Attack Craft (FAC) had moved Tiger cadres by sea.

On April 30, cadres from Mullaitivu were ferried under escort to Trincomalee, and a return journey was made the same night, he claimed.

On the way to Trincomalee, the Tiger craft were confronted by the Sri Lankan Navy, but the attackers were beaten back.

The return journey went unchallenged, the LTTE claimed.

Col Soosai warned that such movements would continue.

"If the Sri Lankan Navy stops us, we will teach them a fitting lesson," he said.

Transport issue stalled Geneva II

The Tiger naval chief recalled that the transport issue had stalled the second round of talks, which were to have taken place in Geneva last month.

Since the government had not provided the LTTE, the kind of transport it needed (a Sri Lankan Air Force heavy duty chopper), to enable its leaders to travel between the East and the North for pre-talks consultations, the LTTE had had to make its arrangements considering its security needs.

This was the reason for the recent sea movement, Col Soosai said.

SL Navy debunks LTTE claims

However, the Sri Lankan Navy has debunked the LTTE's claim that it had moved its cadres successfully between Mullaitivu and Trincomalee by sea.

"We had destroyed one of their boats and the rest had beached at Ilankattai in a damaged condition," said the naval spokesman, Com Dassanayake.

SL Army denies its men were killed in Karuna camp

The Sri Lankan Army, on its part, has denied the LTTE's claim that one of its officers and three men were killed when the LTTE attacked renegade leader Karuna's camps near Welikanda in Eastern Sri Lanka last week.

The LTTE had said that among the four Sri Lankan soldiers killed in the camp was Capt Lloyd Fernando of the Sri Lankan Army.

But the army officially stated that this was part of the LTTE's "sinister" propaganda that the Sri Lankan Forces were backing Karuna.

It was "far from the truth" the statement said.

"The army as a professional military outfit has no reason to hide the identities of its valiant soldiers," an official statement said.

First Published: May 02, 2006 15:46 IST