to blast Colombo port
*Explosives were to be fixed to eight ships,
suicide bombers nabbed
*Diversionary attack by Sea Tigers on Navy base at Pesalai
*At least 11 sailors and 25-30 LTTE cadres killed as 7,000 civilians
A Tiger guerrilla plot to attack eight different
ships in the Colombo Port came a cropper for two consecutive days
due to rough seas and their plans going awry. Eight different explosive
packages with timing devices and magnets attached were to be used
in this attack.
Last morning one guerrilla died after swallowing
a cyanide capsule. A second is warded at the Welisara hospital.
Three others who were on a boat were arrested on the high seas by
the Navy. On the boat, among other things, were: frogmen’s
kits, oxygen cylinders, mobile telephones, a Global Positioning
System (GPS), two timed-explosive devices, a passport, two National
Identity Cards and cash.
|Underwater gear apparently intended for the Tiger attack on
the Colombo Port being checked by security forces personnel
at the Pamunugama beach yesterday. Pix by M. A. Pushpakumara
& Ravindra Liyanage
Those in custody have begun baring details of the
Tiger guerrilla plans to cause mayhem in the Colombo Port, an exercise
which, if successful, would have caused enormous damage to the nation’s
economy. They had tried to carry out the attacks on Friday but found
the seas too rough to move in their boats. Thereafter, things went
wrong yesterday partly due to rough seas.
A second incident in the Gulf of Mannar, said
to be a diversion, timed for the attacks on the ships, saw gun battles
between the Sea Tigers and the Sri Lanka Navy. Eleven sailors were
killed. Navy Commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda said at
least 25 to 30 guerrillas were killed. He said eight of their boats
In the resultant melee, both Tiger guerrillas
and military officials traded allegations against each other over
the death of a woman inside a church and the killing of four fishermen
on the beach at Pesalai near Mannar. Two more bodies were found
in the vicinity, reports said. Forty four civilians were injured.
Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said the
Government would conduct an inquiry to ascertain the circumstances
under which the attacks on civilians occurred. “It is only
after it is over that we will know how it took place,” he
Details of the planned attack on eight ships in
the Colombo Port began to unravel after residents along the coast
of Pamunugama heard a loud explosion at sea. Thereafter, residents
had seen two suspicious persons swimming and coming ashore. One
had bitten a cyanide capsule. When Police arrived, upon being alerted,
the second person had swallowed a cyanide capsule.
The first died whilst the other was admitted to
the Welisara hospital. Within barely 35 minutes after the first
explosion, a second blast was heard. Police who are conducting investigations
have learnt that two explosive packages had been destroyed. Besides
the two found on the boat, two were discovered by fishermen in Wennappuwa.
Late last night another explosive package was
found at Dungalpitiya in Pamunugama and defused.
After Police were told of the find, Special Task
Force (STF) commandos took charge of them. One more packages is
|A magnetic sea mine detected at Wennappuwa.
Sri Lanka Navy rushed patrols from SLNS Rangala,
their main establishment in Colombo. Two Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC)
ran into rough seas. One capsized. Two sailors were rescued and
three were reported missing. Navy personnel arrested a guerrilla
wearing a frogman’s kit and swimming at sea.
Thereafter a Navy patrol seized the guerrilla
boat with three cadres on board.
Security measures in and around the Colombo Port
were immediately strengthened. Whilst Army units have moved into
areas on ground, Navy patrols in the waters outside the port area
have been stepped up.
According to reports from Mannar, a flotilla of
Sea Tiger boats had ordered fishermen not to set out on their tasks
yesterday morning. Many who were at sea were told to withdraw. On
learning this, three Navy Fibre Glass Dinghy (FGB) patrols had moved
in to find at least 11 Sea Tiger boats in the area. They came under
The incident has led to civilians fleeing their
Mannar’s Government Agent M. Vishvalingam
told The Sunday Times that 7,000 persons had fled to the Church
of Our Lady of Victories after the fighting. He said there were
fears they could cross the Palk Straits and go to India. He said
he had brought this to the attention of the Government.
LTTE warns of retaliation
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has
threatened military retaliation over what it calls provocative
aerial bombing by the Sri Lanka Air Force and attacks on their
camps, according to their Political Wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan.
A message to this effect has been conveyed
to the Government through the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
and Norway’s Ambassador Hans Brattskar, the pro-LTTE
website Tamilnet reported yesterday.
SLMM spokesman Thorfinnur Omarsson last
night confirmed that the LTTE had conveyed its message to