Tigers intended ship as bait - paper

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Thinamurasu, the Tamil weekly with the largest circulation in Sri Lanka, said in this week's issue which hit the news stands in Colombo this morning, that the LTTE ship that was bombed and sunk by the Sri Lankan airforce on Sunday appears to be the vessel that went missing with the cargo of 81mm mortar shells meant for the Sri Lankan army from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

The paper argues that the claims of the SLAF that the explosives and arms in the ship were destroyed are nothing but long yarns. It says that it was clear from the UAV footage that the ship was empty.

The Thinamurasu avers that the LTTE was trying to get two birds with one stone when it decided to bring the ship within the island's territorial waters.

One was to sink this ship (which was the vessel carrying mortar shells from ZDI to the SLA) without trace and the other was to use it as a bait to draw out and then launch an attack on the Sri Lankan navy as the Sea Tigers had done before when they captured a small vessel, the Iris Mona which was plying between Jaffna and Trincomalee (two SLN Dvoras were sunk in that attack).

This is why the ship, contrary to the LTTE's normal practice of unloading weapons in international waters during night time , was anchored in broad daylight close to the island's shoreline - it was hence actually meant as bait said the paper.

The paper also points out that the Sri Lankan navy did not go anywhere near the ship for this reason.

"The attempt to describe the attack on the ship as a great issue was actually meant to hide weakness (on the part of the SLAF and SLN)" says the Thinamurasu in conclusion.

A ship called Stillus Limmasul bound for Colombo from Port Beira in Africa carrying 32,400 mortar bombs of 81 mm calibre purchased by the Sri Lankan government from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries has been missing since 2 July 1997.

The ship left Port Beira on May 24 and was last seen on July 2 at the Port of Malagasay in Madagascar. It was expected to arrive in Colombo port by July 9.

The ship has never been traced despite the Sri Lankan government seeking urgent assistance from the Interpol.

There is much speculation that the ship and its lethal cargo fell into the hands of the Liberation Tigers. The LTTE, however, has denied any involvement.

Related Articles:
05.11.97   Tigers name troops killed in ship attack
03.11.97   SLAF Bombed Abandoned Ship - Paper
02.11.97   SLAF claims it hit Tiger arms vessel


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