Sri Lanka Navy, Sea Tigers clash in Mannar seas
[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 November 2006, 04:26 GMT]
Two Sri Lanka Navy Inshore Patrol Crafts were sunk and a third IPC vessel was damaged in a sea battle that broke out in the seas off Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam controlled Vidathalthivu, 20 km north of Mannar, Saturday at 6:50 a.m., LTTE Military Spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan said. Meanwhile, sources in Mannar said civilians were fleeing Talaimannar as the battle raged off Talaimannar two hours later around 8:30 a.m.
A guard unit for the naval exercise of the Sea Tigers retaliated when attacked by the SLN vessels that entered the LTTE territorial waters in Vidathalthivu, according to Mr. Irasiah Ilanthirayan.
Sri Lanka Air Force MI-24 helicopters, MIG and Kfir bombers were engaged in the offensive launched by the Sri Lankan military, he further said.
The battle raged off the seas from LTTE controlled Vidathalthivu till Sri Lanka Navy positions off Talaimannar, according to the sources in Mannar.
A SLN gunboat was sunk by the Tigers around 6:55 a.m. in the seas off Vidathalthivu.
At 7:50 a.m., another gunboat was sunk when additional SLN vessels approached the scene.
In the continuing battle, a third Sri Lankan vessel was damaged and towed back, according to LTTE.
LTTE spokesman said the SLN vessels were chased into Mannar by the Sea Tiger guard unit and the naval exercise of the Tigers was continuing in Vidathalthivu.
Around 10 SLN troopers were killed in the clashes, the Tiger spokesman said.
3 Sea Tiger cadres were wounded in the clashes.
The battle raged till 8:30 a.m.