uses human-shield fishermen as
Monitors commit 'terrible mistake'
By Shelani Perera
Navy's interception of two fishing trawlers carrying military hardware
in the seas off Batticaloa led to Tiger guerrillas using fishermen
as 'human shields'. It has now come to light that they not only
took cover behind their vessels to fire at Naval craft but also
took into custody groups of fishermen. They landed ashore in their
midst and made good their escape, according to high-ranking Navy
over 35 fishermen to members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
in Batticaloa. The Monitoring Mission yesterday said they were awaiting
reports from the Sri Lanka Navy and the LTTE on the incident off
the shores of Vakarai last Wednesday before making any comment.
get the reports we will examine the incident but we will not investigate
the incident. The incident occurred in the sea and we do not have
the facilities to investigate," Deputy Head Hagrup Hauckland
declared yesterday. Mr. Hauckland said however they had received
information that the LTTE had claimed that it did not lose any boats
but some fishing boats were involved in the incident.
On Friday, the
pro-LTTE website Tamilnet quoted Sinhala and Muslim fishermen as
claiming that a Navy gun boat had fired at a fishing trawler. The
fishermen claim that fisherman Mohammed Sabeek died on the spot
, while two others swam ashore amidst heavy fighting. The trawler
blew up. The fishermen also claim that the Navy had fired at another
trawler, the Tamilnet said.
military reiterated its claim that the boats were LTTE craft and
that one had blown itself up. The military in a statement said explosives
and ammunition were found from the scene of the attack in the presence
of a member of the international monitoring team. Meanwhile the
Monitoring Mission's failure to convey to the Government the intimation
that a Sea Tiger flotilla would move from near Mullaitivu to Batticaloa
was a "terrible mistake", Mr. Hauckland said yesterday.
office was notified of the incident but the mistake was made at
the headquarters because it took down misleading notes on the incident
and we did not notify the Government. This was a mistake from our
side and we later informed the Government of our mistake,"
he told The Sunday Times. Mr. Hauckland was commenting on the incident
where the Sri Lanka Navy intercepted a Sea Tiger flotilla of three
boats said to be heading from near Mullaitivu southwards to Vakarai
near Batticaloa. The Sea Tiger vessels - a logistics vessel and
two attack craft - were trapped in a Naval cordon near Foul Point,
South of Trincomalee, for over five hours.
period, a sea plane carrying guerrilla chief negotiator Anton Balasingham
and party from the Iranamadu tank to the Maldivian capital of Male,
diverted course and flew over the naval cordon, thus risking attack
both by the Navy and Air Force. Both the interception of the Sea
Tiger flotilla as well as overflying of the sea planes could have
led to an explosive situation wrecking the peace talks, if the security
forces took retaliatory action. However, their cautious response
prevented an untoward situation.