TAMIL TIGERS CARRY OUT SUICIDE ATTACK
AGAINST SHIP CARRYING RELIEF SUPPLIES TO CIVILIANS IN JAFFNA PENINSULA
Prove once more their callous disregard
for the welfare of the Tamil civilians they claim to represent
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),
known as the Tamil Tigers, on Sunday January 21, 2007, carried
out a suicide attack against a cargo ship carrying wheat flour
to feed 500,000 civilians in the Jaffna peninsula, by ramming
an explosives-laden boat, while the ship was unloading the supplies
outside Sri Lanka’s northern Kankesanthurai port.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in the US, Mr.
Bernard Goonetilleke who commented on this incident said, “The
Tamil Tigers are always making representations to the international
community about the plight of Tamil civilians in the midst of
a humanitarian situation, while doing everything within their
means to create such a situation to achieve their political agenda.”
The ‘MV City of Liverpool,’ a private
merchant vessel operated by foreign crew and chartered by a Sri
Lankan company to carry essential supplies to civilians in the
north, sustained hull damage after the attack, and with water
leaking into the vessel, was towed into the port. One crew member
was wounded in the attack.
Soldiers at Point Pedro east of Kankesanthurai
port observed a flotilla of 20 Sea Tiger boats approaching the
‘MV City of Liverpool’ and opened fire using long
range guns. Navy Dvora fast attack crafts blocked the path of
the Sea Tiger crafts, which split into 2 clusters and moved toward
the vicinity of where the vessel was berthed. During a nearly
45-minute confrontation, the navy destroyed two suicide boats.
One Sea Tiger suicide boat, which managed to slip past the navy
boats to blow up the cargo ship, was destroyed by navy sailors,
who fired from on board the vessel. The resulting explosion damaged
the vessel hull. Navy sailors were on the cargo vessel as part
of the security measures at the harbor.
As precedence to this attack, in December 2006,
the Tamil Tigers engaged in a blatant act of sea piracy. Off the
Mullaitivu seas in the northeast, the Tamil Tigers boarded a disabled
Jordanian vessel, ‘Fara III,’ transporting 14,000
MT of rice from India to South Africa. They took control of the
vessel and seized the communications equipment on board before
taking into custody the foreign crew members, who were subsequently
released through strong pressure from the international community.
The vessel continues to be held by the Tamil Tigers.
The humanitarian considerations of the civilians
in the Jaffna peninsula have been of paramount concern to the
government since it was forced to temporarily close the entry/exit
checkpoint at Muhamalai on the A 9 Highway, which links the north
to the south of the country. The remainder of the A 9 Highway
which cuts across the Tamil Tiger-dominated Vanni, is open to
the public. This entry-exit point was closed by the government
armed forces on August 11, 2006, after the Tamil Tigers attacked
the checkpoint, damaging infrastructure and killing several soldiers.
The armed forces have said the move was necessary to stop the
Tamil Tigers from transporting weapons and fighters into government-held
areas, with the aim of seizing control of the peninsula. The government’s
position is that this entry-exit point will be reopened if the
Tamil Tigers provide credible assurance that they would not repeat
such attacks against the Muhamalai checkpoint.
In this context, the government has taken a
number of initiatives since August 2006, to address the humanitarian
concerns of the civilians in the Jaffna peninsula. Having failed
to obtain security guarantees from the Tamil Tigers for managed
use of the A 9 Highway, or an alternative land route to reach
the peninsula, the government has arranged to supply the needs
of the civilians and uses the sea route to ensure that adequate
supplies of food and other essential items are sent to the peninsula.
In addition, the government has also arranged to import supplies
to the peninsula from South India. The government’s efforts
to obtain ICRC protection for the cargo vessels were denied by
the Tamil Tigers and it is against this challenging background
that the government continues to ship essential supplies to meet
the needs of the civilians in the peninsula.
To downplay their terrorist activities, the Tamil
Tigers have been using various ploys to hoodwink the international
community with the intention of discrediting the government. Among
these are the complaints of a humanitarian situation prevailing
in the north and east, which the Tamil Tigers themselves have
The Tamil Tigers, through this latest suicide
attack to wreck a humanitarian mission, proves once more its callous
disregard for the welfare of the Tamil civilians in the Jaffna
Embassy of Sri Lanka
22 January 2007