Navy nabs 4 ex-Sea Tigers swimming to Mannar

Tiger guerrillas abrogated the peace process with the then government of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on April 19, 1995, by mounting an attack on Trincomalee Harbour, killing twelve sailors and injuring eight.

One of the attackers, Jegatheeswaran Jesuthasan, fled to India when CID investigations into the incident began to unravel details. Last week, Jesuthasan (37) surfaced again in Sri Lanka.

A trained Sea Tiger cadre, he came by boat almost up to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) off Mannar, and began to swim ashore, along with another former LTTE cadre. But their marathon swim was cut short by a Navy patrol, when they were picked up and handed over to the Mannar Police. He told investigators how he escaped to India by boat after being involved with the LTTE for nine years.

It was only three days earlier, when another two more former Sea Tigers were detected in the same location. The four captives have been handed over to the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) for investigations.

The move prompted the Navy to step up security off the north western coast line. Navy Spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya told the Sunday Times that the Navy had received information previously about the possibility of former LTTE cadres returning to the country.

“If they want to return to the country, they can apply for a visa and return, but there are security concerns when they enter the country in this manner,” he said. “They are usually brought in fishing trawlers and dropped midway. Onshore here are many sand dunes, and these groups made use of the sand dunes to move undetected and enter the mainland under cover of darkness,” he said.

He said that, if the ex-Sea Tigers were successful in evading capture, others too would have followed the same route. He said that security has been stepped up, not only to prevent any illegally entry into the country, but also to prevent drug smuggling.

Mannar, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Maxi Proctor told the Sunday Times that the police had intelligence reports about the possibility of former LTTE cadres returning, and accordingly, the police has stepped up security at roadblocks as well as other checkpoints.

He said that they also had reports about smuggling of cannabis from South India.

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