* Escort vessel sunk with 17
officers and men
* Nordic monitors declare Tigers have no
rights at sea and air
* Tigers endanger lives of three Nordic monitors
* Airforce hits Kilinochchi
* Government hopes International community will act even now
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The government last night emphasized the immediate need for
international action against the Tigers after they blew up a
Fast Attack Craft (FAC) providing cover to a vessel carrying
over 700 security forces personnel to the Kankesanthurai Navy
Despite losing one of the escort vessels (P 418), the Navy
fought back preventing a direct Sea Tiger attack on MV Pearl
Cruiser. The navy acknowledged the attack was undoubtedly the
biggest since the Oslo-arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) came
into operation in February 2002. The entire crew is reported
missing and believed dead. The crew comprised two officers and
Sea Tigers launched the attack around 4.15 pm, military
spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said. According to him
the Navy destroyed three enemy craft and disabled at least four.
Initial reports indicated the loss of two FACs and heavy damages
to several other craft.
About 90 minutes after the sea-battle broke out the airforce
launched strikes on selected targets in Kilinochchi. Speculation
is rife that the Iranamadu airstrip had been targeted.
Ms Helen Olafsdottir of the Nordic truce monitoring mission
last night said that they contacted the Kilinochchi-based LTTE
leadership immediately after the Sea Tigers triggered the clash
off the Mullaitivu coast. "We urged them to cease the offensive
and reminded them of the presence of Nordic naval monitors," she
said, adding, "They asked us to get them out."
She confirmed air strikes on Kilinochchi. Airforce
headquarters declined to release details. The Airforce spokesman
said that aircraft and helicopter gunships were deployed in
support of the Navy after Sea Tigers triggered the latest clash.
She said there were reports clashes at Kattaparichchan in the
Ministerial sources said that the international community and
especially the EU together with the co-chairs would no doubt
follow through with intended consequences as indicated to the
LTTE on previous occasions. "International sanctions against
such acts of terrorism are response to the sense of impunity
enjoyed by the LTTE and it provides space for domestic
restraint," the sources said.
The Pearl Cruiser is believed to have moved further towards
the deep seas during the battle. According to Ms. Olafsdottir,
two monitors had been moving with the Navy when the Sea Tigers
struck. One of them had been on board the troop ship, she said.
The Pearl Cruiser is safe and seems to be in Indian waters,"
she said. She said a Finish truce monitor on board the vessel
said it was unharmed but still remained at mid-sea. Subsequently
she said that the vessel had moved back towards the Sri Lankan
The Nordic truce monitoring mission declared that the LTTE
committed gross violations of the CFA in recent days by moving
at sea with the aim of provoking the Navy and now finally
embarking on an offensive operation against the Navy sinking one
vessel and putting SLMM monitors in grave danger.
The Mission spokesperson said, "The sea surrounding Sri Lanka
is a government controlled area. This has been ruled by the SLMM
in line with international law. Non-state actors cannot rule
open sea waters or airspace. The LTTE has therefore no rights at
The five-nation mission accused the LTTE of jeopardizing the
safety of its members. The spokesperson said, "The LTTE has made
what we feel are threats to our monitors warning them not to
participate in patrols in Navy vessels. We take these threats
very seriously and would like to remind the LTTE of its
responsibility, as an equal partner to the Ceasefire Agreement,
to do everything in its power not to jeopardize the monitors’
The mission demanded an immediate cessation of "all
activities and operations at sea as they are a serious violation
of the CFA."
Ms Olafsdottir said that a Nordic monitor based in the East
too came under fire earlier in the day. This was during a mortar
attack on the Navy detachment at Muttur jetty at about 1. 10 pm.
Subsequently the Navy and Sea Tigers exchanged heavy fire off
Muttur East in the afternoon
Earlier in the day terrorists targeted two military posts at
Kalliyankadu and VVT in the Jaffna peninsula. The attacks
inflicted injuries on two soldiers while a civilian died in the
Army headquarters said that stepped up attacks come as
terrorists with the support of several NGOs were forcing the
civilians to vacate their homes at Maligathivu, Bharathipuram,
Mainkamam and other villages. This was part of their strategy to
show that security forces were driving the civilians out of
In Jaffna terrorists were seen building a new bunker line
close to Army positions at Nagarkovil.