Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Sri Lankan navy destroys weapons-filled Tamil trawler

AP , COLOMBO

The Sri Lankan navy destroyed a trawler loaded with arms along the western coast yesterday, killing at least five Tamil Tiger separatists and sparking a huge explosion, the military said.

In the north, the rebels blindfolded three ethnic Sinhalese civilians, tied their hands and fatally shot them, and a rebel attack in the Jaffna Peninsula left two soldiers dead, officials said.

Navy patrol boats spotted the trawler off Mannar in northwestern Sri Lanka -- approximately 220km from Colombo -- and fired warning shots, a Defense Ministry official said.

The rebels shot back, triggering a fierce response from the navy, which fired at the trawler for about 10 minutes, setting off a large explosion, he said. The craft sank, killing suspected five rebels, while three sailors were wounded, he said.

"Considering the explosion that occurred on the trawler, we believe that it was transporting a large quantity of explosives and arms," the official said.

In northern Vavuniya, three Sinhalese and two Muslims were captured by the rebels after traveling to the area to collect mangoes for business, police spokesman Kumar Sandanayake said.

Meanwhile, Tamil Tigers fired artillery and mortars at military positions on the northern Jaffna Peninsula on Saturday night, killing two soldiers and wounding 13.

Troops repulsed the attack using artillery and mortars, he said. Rebel casualties were not immediately known.

Heavy fighting along the same defense line on Wednesday left hundreds of combatants dead.

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