Tamil Tigers kills 10 Sri Lankan navy
In a major offensive rebel Tamil Tigers have killed more than 10 Sri Lankan navy personnel. Tiger's mouthpiece Voice of Tigers radio announced today that rebels occupied the navy facility for more than two hours and killed at least 10 sailors before escaping with heavy weapons including mortars, an anti-tank weapon and explosives.
Tamil Tiger rebels overran a navy outpost in Sri Lanka Wednesday, killing at least 10 sailors and losing four of their own fighters, the guerrillas said. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they seized heavy weapons and radar equipment after hitting the Irukkulampiddi naval detachment in northwestern Mannar district in a pre-dawn commando-style raid.
Sri Lankan's navy, however, said security forces had beaten back the offensive by killing at least four rebels, including a senior leader, and destroying a guerrilla boat.
"They are making big claims, but the attack was beaten back," navy spokesman Commander D. K. P. Dassanayake said. "We lost three sailors killed and four more wounded. Four Tigers were killed. One of their boats was destroyed by us."
The clandestine Voice of Tigers radio said the rebels occupied the navy facility for more than two hours and killed at least 10 sailors before escaping with heavy weapons including mortars, an anti-tank weapon and explosives.
"Four Tiger commandos were killed in action," said the Tiger radio broadcast.
The defence ministry said following the fighting, the military deployed Mi-24 helicopter gunships to attack fleeing rebel boats.
"The air assault had been launched around 4:45 am (2315 GMT) targeting the terror boats fleeing (north) towards Veddithalthivu area," the ministry said.
It said the guerrillas had carried out the attack with the intention of discouraging civilians in rebel-held areas from escaping to government-held territory.
The attack was on the small Mannar islet on the island's northwest coast which juts towards neighbouring India. The two countries are separated by a narrow strip of sea known as the Palk Straits.
The Sri Lankan navy cannot operate its bigger fast attack craft in shallow waters off Mannar where security forces have deployed smaller inshore patrol vessels.
The LTTE has its own naval unit, a rarity among rebel organisations anywhere, and operates a fleet of fast boats as well as merchant vessels used for gun-running.
The rebels have previously used explosives-laden boats to ram and sink Sri Lankan navy craft in suicide attacks and have also staged attacks inside key ports in the country.
They have also been accused of attacking local and foreign owned merchant vessels.