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Friday, May 18, 2007

Maldivian Coast Guard sinks 'LTTE' vessel



Reported here:
A trawler which the Maldivian Coast Guard sunk on Thursday, on suspicion that it was an LTTE gun-runner, was registered in Kerala, the Sri Lankan Navy's spokesman Com DKP Dassanayake told Hindustan Times on Friday.

The vessel bearing the name Sri Krishna ( registration number KFO 7339 ALP 2749) had set sail from Kollam (Quilon) in Kerala on March 7, Dassanayake said.

The Indian Coast Guard had last seen the vessel on March 12, near the India-Sri Lanka maritime boundary off Pamban near Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. It reappeared on Wednesday May 16, south of the Maldives chain of islands. Trouble arose when it fired on a Maldivian fishing boat and invited the attention of the Maldivian Coast Guard vessel Huravee. After a 12-hour stand off, the trawler was sunk early on Thursday.

Four of the nine-member crew were captured, one surrendered, and four were killed, reports said. The man who surrendered was Simon Soza, the vessel's engineer, Dassanayake said. The others were apparently Tamils.

The suspicion that Sri Krishna was a gun-runner for the LTTE arose because of the kind of resistance the crew offered and also the explosions which could be heard as it sank. Reports said that the vessel, which started off as an innocent deep sea fishing trawler, was hijacked by the LTTE to do some gun-running for it.

There is a suspicion in diplomatic circles that the vessel was to rendezvous with an ocean going LTTE arms vessel in the high seas off south Maldives, and take on board a part of the lethal cargo for delivery in Sri Lanka. This could be the reason why the engineer of the vessel, the Malayali Simon Soza, had jumped ship and surrendered to the Maldivians, it is said.
The LTTE are also known as the Tamil Tigers. More here.

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