Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Sri Lankan navy comes under attack from rebels

AP , COLOMBO

Sri Lankan navy boats patrolling the country's west coast came under attack yesterday from suspected Tamil Tiger rebel boats, including a suspected suicide vessel which exploded when the military returned fire, a navy official said.

Navy Spokesman Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake said five navy boats were patrolling near Kalpitiya, a fishing area about 140km northwest of Colombo, when the attack occurred -- the latest unrest that is threatening to push the country back into civil war.

"When our naval crafts were patrolling in the sea two suspicious boats approached. Another two joined them shortly and started firing at [the] navy boats," Dassanayake said.

The navy boats fired back and one of the attacking boats exploded and sank, Dassanayake said. The size of the blast indicated it may have been packed with explosives and was intended to be used in a suicide attack against the navy, he said.

No casualties were reported on the navy side.

There was no independent confirmation of the incident.

On Thursday, 10 people were killed in fighting that has increased recently to levels not seen since the Sri Lankan government and rebels signed a truce four years ago.

More than 150 people have been killed in violence since last month, threatening the 2002 ceasefire.

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