SLAF Bombed Abandoned Ship - Paper

[TamilNet, Monday, 03 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Voice of Tigers, the official radio of the LTTE, quoting Eelanatham, the Tamil daily published in the Vanni, announced this morning that the vessel which the Sri Lankan airforce hit and sunk yesterday was a cargo ship that lay abandoned off the Mullaithivu coast for some time.

The radio quoting the story in the Eelanatham further said that the Sri Lankan airforce had bombed and sunk this vessel around 10 a.m. yesterday.

Meanwhile the SLAF and the SL Navy commanders called a press conference at 4 p.m. today at the Ministry of Defence to explain the interception and show camera footage from the UAV (unmanned air vehicle) that had spotted the ship.

The commanders insisted that it was an LTTE armaments ship. They said that they had received intelligence three days ago that a 170 meter ship flying a Maltese flag was on its way to the coast off Mullaithivu to unload arms to the LTTE. But, a UAV sent out on patrol had detected an eighty foot vessel of unidentified origin about 8 a.m. yesterday along with some Sea Tiger boats near it.

The journalists were shown the camera footage from the UAV in which the boats near the ship were seen dispersing and some lorries going in different directions from a sea coast .

It was clear from the UAV footage that if the claims of the SLAF are true then the Liberation Tigers had already unloaded the cargo onto their boats and lorries.

However, the SLAF and SLN chiefs claimed that of the three latches on the ship's hold only one was open. This, according to them, was evidence that the LTTE hadn't managed to unload all its weapons from the ship's hold.

The SLAF and the SL navy also claimed that they had information that the ships' cargo was 1500 tons. They said the LTTE might have unloaded ten percent of this cargo from the vessel.

The bombing and sinking of the ship was shown on the state run television last night.


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