Three SLN sailors died in Mannar sea - LTTE
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 December 2005, 18:45 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have informed the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that their cadres had returned fire for self-protection on Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) boats that intercepted and attacked three LTTE vessels in the seas of Mannar Thursday morning. Two SLN sailors were found dead inside a boat that was abandoned by the SLN fleet, and another sailor, seriously wounded and rescued by the Tigers, later drowned in a Tiger boat that had sustained extensive damage, the LTTE said. One LTTE cadre was wounded in the clash, the Tigers said adding that their cadres were continuing to travel in the seas with arms for self-defence in accordance with their earlier announcement.
Full text of the letter addressed to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission follows:
22 December 2005
Head of SLMM
Dear Mr.Haukland,Subject: Incident in the seas of Mannar
This letter is being addressed to you to provide full details relating to the incident in the Mannar seas in the morning hours today, 22 December 2005.
We were unable to provide timely information on this due to the late arrival of our boats attacked by the SL Navy and to ascertain full details from our members who have escaped the attack.
When three of our boats were travelling in the Mannar seas, SL Navy intercepted the fleet and started firing attacks. Our members had to return fire for self-protection. When the naval fleet was retreating, our members observed one navy boat left behind. Since that boat was not making any movements, our members approached and inspected it to find that the boat was gradually sinking due to the damage and two sailors were found dead and one alive with serious injuries. Abandoning the sinking boat with two dead bodies our members decided to save the injured sailor by transferring him to our boat already damaged by the naval attack. The damage to our boat was extensive that sea-water entered into the boat rapidly and the boat sank with the injured soldier.
Our members managed to swim along with their injured colleague and reached the shores in our area late in the evening. It is after making inquiries from them the above details were obtained. In the meantime, the SL government has hastened to inform the SLMM and the media that the LTTE has abducted three sailors. Our members confirm that all the three sailors in the navy boat were drowned.
In this context, it is relevant to refer you to our repeated requests to make arrangements for members' travel in land and sea in terms of the agreed understanding reached earlier. Please be advised that our members would continue this practice of travelling in the seas with arms for self-defence and it is essential that our request be officially responded to formalise travel in the future. Early action in providing the official arrangement in place would avoid recurrence of such incidents.
Head of the Political Division