Lanka navy sinks LTTE boat, five rebels killed

Colombo, October 15:

The Sri Lankan navy destroyed a trawler loaded with arms along the western coast today, 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 — about 220 km from Colombo — and fired warning shots, a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity in line with policy. 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, said area police spokesman Kumar Sandanayake. He said the Muslims were set free, but the Sinhalese were killed. Meanwhile, Tamil Tigers fired artillery and mortars at military positions on the northern Jaffna Peninsula yesterday night, killing two soldiers and wounding 13 others, an officer at the Media Center for National Security said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

Japanese peace envoy Yasushi Akashi is expected in Sri Lanka today for talks with government and rebel leaders amid fears that the island is veering dangerously close to all-out war.