SLN Landing Craft deployed to facilitate civilian movement

The Navy used SLNS Shakthi to ferry 795 civilians from KKS to Trincomalee. The Chinese-built vessel, believed to be the Navy’s largest landing craft, acquired in December 1995, reached Trincomalee Sunday afternoon. The navy deployed several Fast Attack Craft (FACs) to protect the slow moving vessel.

The movement took place against the backdrop of LTTE efforts to re-open the A9 Kandy-Jaffna overland route.

The LTTE said that they would cooperate with the ICRC for civilian supplies and travel arrangement through the A9 route. The Tigers earlier said they would not support air and sea routes for civilian travel.

A senior Military official said that over a dozen buses were used to transport people to Colombo, Kandy and Vavuniya.

Fighting effectively cut access by road to and from the Jaffna peninsula, leaving thousands of people trapped and running short of vital supplies. The Nordic truce monitoring mission said that the LTTE initiated the latest bout of fighting on August 11.

Pro-LTTE TamilNet erroneously identified SLNS Shakthi as Lanka Muditha, a civilian vessel.

The Military emphasized that the amphibious assault ship Shakthi did not sail under ICRC flag. Although the ICRC facilitated an earlier civilian ship movement it did not get involved this time. The Island learns that the LTTE vehemently opposed such movements. The LTTE wants the immediate re-opening of the Muhamalai entry and exit point.

The military went ahead with Saturday’s movement despite the severe threat. The unprecedented movement (deployment of a landing craft to ferry civilians) took place against the backdrop the suspension of Naval monitoring by the Nordic truce monitoring mission on May 11. (SF)


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