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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > Tamil Armed Resistance > Reports of Armed Conflict > Indian help secures safety of Sri Lanka's �Pearl Cruiser�

Reports on Armed Conflict in Tamil Eelam

Two SLN Dvora boats destroyed, ship moved to international waters - [TamilNet, May 11, 2006 13:26 GMT]

A Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) ship with around 700 sailors on board got trapped in the clashes that erupted between the Sri Lanka Navy boats and the Sea Tigers boats in seas off Vadamaradchi East, Sri Lankan defence sources said. Two Dvora Fast Attack Crafts (FAC) were reportedly destroyed. The ship, Perl Cruise, has safely arrived in the Indian waters, sources in Colombo said. At least fifteen SLN sailors are reported missing in the clash. Four Sea Tigers died defending the Sea Tiger boats, the Tigers said. The ship was a few miles away from the attack site, according to Sea Tiger sources.
The Liberation Tigers officials in Kilinochchi said two SLN boats were interrupting the Sea Tiger boats within the LTTE controlled area. One Dvora FAC was destroyed and another damaged boat left the scene towards Point Pedro. Four Tigers were killed.

Sea Tigers denied Colombo reports of heavy Sea Tiger casulties. Four LTTE cadres died, according to Sea Tiger sources from Mullaithivu.

Two LTTE cadres were wounded in the clash.

One of the Dvora boats was sunk around 5:15 p.m. in the seas off Vettilaikerny and the other retreated after sustaining heavy damage. This boat, according to informed military circles in Colombo, sank near Point Pedro.

At least one SLMM official was on board the ship, sources in Colombo said.

At the same time, heavy artillery fire was reported in Nagarkovil area in Vadamardchi East where Sri Lanka Army had moved in a large number of troops during the curfew on Monday.

Meanwhile, around 30 rounds of artillery and 2 rounds of Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) fire was reported towards LTTE controlled Sampoor area in Trincomalee East from Sri Lanka Army base in Monkey Bridge, sources in Colombo said.

Indian help secures safety of Sri Lanka's �Pearl Cruiser�

D.B.S. Jeyaraj 

12 May 2006

The Sri Lankan navy vessel � MV Pearl Cruiser� with 710 security personnel on board that was targetted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 11th in northern waters has reached Kankesanthurai (KKS) safely on May 12th after an �eventful� experience said informed defence sources in Colombo.

The naval convoy escorting the personnel - carrier ship to KKS from Trincomalee had come under heavy attack by a sea tigers unit. The sea battle resulted in the loss of two �Dvoras� and the deaths of at least twenty - one men from both the Navy and tigers.

The MV �Pearl cruiser� is a merchant vessel now used by the navy to transport men and materials by sea. The ship had started off from Trincomalee in the morning with 710 security personnel on board. These included a number of army and air force personnel in addition to navy sailors. The �pearl cruiser� was provided security by a convoy of four �Dvora� Fast attack craft.

On the morning of May 11th the LTTE sent an urgent letter to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. The letter was curt and precise.

� We have on several occasions verbally informed you to refrain from boarding Sri Lankan Naval vessels. We have also given this request in writing to you twice so far. This is the third request from us to you to refrain from boarding Sri Lankan Naval vessels. Sri Lankan Navy is entering the sea adjoining the land in our control and disrupting the fishing activities of the people. It is also disturbing the LTTE exercises in doing so. If Sri Lankan Navy disrupts our activities we will definitely retaliate. SLMM monitors are used by the Sri Lankan Navy as human shields in order to continue with these disruptions. We urge you for the last time not to be on board Sri Lankan Naval vessels until further notice from us. If you chose to ignore our warning and request, we are not responsible for the consequences. Please take this as the last warning to you to not board Sri Lankan Naval vessels� it said.

The naval flotilla was in Northern waters off the coast of Vadamaratchy East when a fleet of eighteen Sea tiger boats turned up from the Vettilaikerny - Kattaikkaadu sea tiger base. They approacvhed the naval convoy from the rear.A sea battle ensued at a point about 30 nautical miles away from Point Pedro. The time was around 4. 15 - 20 pm.

Two naval ships sailing ahead of the personnel carrier had gone too far ahead when the tigers struckT he sea skirmish resulted in one �Dvora� (P418) getting sunk. Two officers and fifteen sailors are reported missing.

Another Dvora was badly damaged. There was one Scandinavian ceasefire monitor aboard this damaged vessel. The gun boat was allowed to sail on towards Point Pedro.

According to informed sources the personnel and monitor on board were later evacuated from the ship by a special air borne �Casevac� (Casualty evacuation) team. The badly damaged ship was allowed to sink off the Kudarappu coast.

Meanwhile the sea tiger boats surrounded the abandoned personnel carrier vessel at mid sea. Though the tigers could have destroyed and sunk the ship the objective seemed to be that of seizing the vessel with its crew and passengers. The ship also had a ceasefire monitor from Finland on board. A stand - off at sea was on.

The SLMM headquarters in Colombo was furious at this threat to its members. Oslo too was angered. Massive pressure was exerted on the LTTE in Kilinochchi and abroad. The tigers were pressurised to call off its boats and let the �Pearl Cruiser� proceed safely.

Meanwhile the personnel carrier was moving away towards international waters. The other two Dvoras that had gone ahead also began turning back. All four Dvoras were modelled on the Israeli proto- type and constructed at the Colombo Dockyard.

The Air force now got into the picture helicopter gunships zoomed in and targetted the tiger boats. It is reported that some LTTE boats were hit and that at least one was sunk. Four sea tigers were killed and more than two were injured.

Though the navy says an explosive packed suicide tiger boat rammed into a navy ship other sources dispute it.

At this point of time a desperate Government in Colombo contacted New Delhi urgently. Indian assistance was requested to rescue the ship from LTTE clutches and escort it to KKS or Trincomalee. According to informed diplomatic sources India was prepared to provide security to Galle but not to Trinco or KKS because of possible conflict. New Delhi while ready to help Colombo out was not ready to risk its personnel or get dragged into unnecessary confrontation.

By this time the personnel carrier had reached international waters. An Indian coast guard vessel was looming on the horizon. The Lankan air force was inflicting damage. Norway and the SLMM was exerting strong pressure. So the LTTE called off the operation and sea tiger boats returned to base in Mullaitheevu.

The personnel carrier ship then reached Indian waters and remained at sea for a while. Indian ships stood guard. Meanwhile Colombo had started reprisal bombing and shelling on LTTE controlled areas in the North and East. It appeared that tiger fighting was over for the day. The SLMM also obtained guarantes from the LTTE that the �Pearl cruiser� will not be targetted when returning.

According to informed diplomatic sources Indian ships provided �quiet cover� to the Lankan ship to reach Lankan waters off Trincomalee. The personnel carrier reached Trincomalee during night. Thereafter the ship proceeded with additional ceasefire monitors on board towards KKS. The tigers had assured the SLMM that it would not be harmed.

The SLMM says the LTTE atacked the convoy without provocation. The tigers say the ship encroached on the waters where they were engaged in training exercises.

According to knowledgeable sources the LTTE was suspicious that the personnel carrier was coming towards the peninsula to enhance the security forces strength. With the security forces transporting men and material under curfew to Nagar Kovil frontline from Palaly the LTTE feared a massive onslaught on Vettilaikerny and then Elephant pass. It was in a way a pre- emptive strike by the tigers. Though the tigers could have sunk the Pearl cruiser through its suicide boats the LTTE had refrained from doing so to try and capture the troops alive and also because the Finnish monitor was aboard.

The Sri Lankan authorities in order to salvage some self - respect are saying that morre than eight LTTE boats were destroyed and more than fifty tigers were killed. The count is based on the assumption that ten to fifteen tigers on each boat.

At the same time Colombo also says the boats surrounding the ships were all suicide boats and that the sunk Dvora was rammed into by a tiger boat. A suicide boat with packed explosives does not have more than two black tigers on board. So the arithmetic is faulty.

It appears that the Sri Lankan authorities are simply flying kites and sections of the national and international media are dutifully lapping it up.

The LTTE despite its victory in the sea battle has lost badly in political terms. It stands accused of flagrantly violating the ceasefire. It has incurred the wrath of the SLMM. It has brought about shelling and bombing in the North - East for which no international condemnstion is forthcoming.

The LTTE may have won the sea battle but it is fast losing the propaganda war with such actions.



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