Damaged merchant vessel towed to port
[TamilNet, Monday, 27 September 1999, 07:35 GMT]
A Chinese merchant vessel, the MV.Yugi which was slightly damaged in the high seas off Mullaithivu was towed to the eastern port of Trincomalee by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) last night, navy sources said.
Naval sources said that the vessel was damaged due to firing by the Liberation Tigers.
However unconfirmed reports said the vessel was fired at by SLN gunboats, patrolling the Mullaitivu sea in the assumption it was carrying arms for the LTTE.
The Sri Lankan Sunday Times yesterday quoted defence sources as saying they were investigating reports of LTTE landing fresh shipments of mortars and other items near the north eastern coast of Chundikulam, off the Mullaitivu coast, on the nights of Wednesday and Thursday.
"There had been heavy boat movements in the area reportedly ferrying inland stocks from ships in the high seas. This is believed to be the latest shipments in smuggling operations in the past several months," the Times said.
The attack on the vessel Yugi was reported on Saturday night, but the vessel could only be towed to Trincomalee yesterday with the help of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, the sources said.
The vessel is now anchored near the Round Island, entrance to the Trincomalee harbour, sources added.
No casualties have been reported amongst the crew.
The Liberation Tigers are said to unload their arms supplies on the Mullaitivu coastline. February last year, the Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force sank one LTTE ship delivering supplies.
The LTTE has also targeted ships supplying the Jaffna peninsula on behalf of the Sri Lankan government. The Tigers accuse the government of using civilian ships to move troops and supplies for the garrison in Jaffna.