Indonesian ship that was rescued by
By Amantha Perera
There has been
heightened surveillance and security
at naval bases in the north east
since the beginning of December due to
reports that the Sea Tigers were planning to
mount an attack.
It was in this backdrop
that the navy detected a cluster of
unidentified craft off the seas southwest of
Jaffna around 7.30 a.m. on December 26. The
cluster made up of between 14 to 16 boats
was heading towards Sri Lankan shores from
the seas south of the Delft Island. The
direction of the boats indicated that they
were heading towards the north western coast
under the Tigers just above Mannar island.
For four hours the navy
tracked the movements and it was around
11.30 when the flotilla was confronted by
naval craft south of Delft at a location
between Mannar island and Delft.
At least six Dvora Fast
Attack Craft were in the group that
confronted the Tigers. The Tiger boats
included at least six suicide craft, and
smaller craft fitted with high speed
outboard engines with a crew of two. They
were loaded with explosives that were set to
go off on impact. Their role is to engage
the naval craft while the bigger boats can
get away from the firing line.
And soon after the
naval craft opened fire, it was the suicide
boats that sped towards them. The battle
raged on for over three hours.
and turned into a fierce sea battle when
naval task units took the initiative to cut
off the suspicious boat movement at 11.30
a.m. defence sources say. According to naval
sources, LTTE elements were engaged in a
clandestine sea movement smuggling warlike
material towards the non-liberated
Nachchikuda coast when detected by the naval
patrol units," the Defence Ministry
"Naval fast attack
craft responded effectively towards the LTTE
cluster with heavy gunfire and evasive
battle manoeuvres, forcing terrorist boats
to flee further southwards. According to
information received, SLAF MI-24 gunships
also engaged aerial strikes at the fleeing
LTTE boats," it added.
Killed in action
The Tigers said that
Sea Tigers had rammed one Dvora and it was
sunk with a crew of 14 while two others were
damaged. They said four Black Sea Tigers -
a.k.a suicide cadres were killed in the
attack. They said that the first Dvora was
damaged around 1.00 p.m. while another was
hit around 1.50 p.m.
The military put the
Tiger death toll at 40. The LTTE dismissed
this claim stating only four Black Tigers
were killed adding it was the navy that
suffered heavy casualties with at least 11
killed. Initial reports said that it was an
Israeli built Dvora that has been targeted
and sunk. But a day after the attack, the
Defence Ministry confirmed that the sunk
craft was P-413
manufactured by Colombo Dockyard.
It had been under the
command of Lieutenant Commander Lalith
Ekanayake with a crew of 11. Ekanayake's
body was later recovered while the 11 crew
members have now been listed as Missing in
Action. Unconfirmed reports said that two
crew members had been rescued from the
P-413 had been at the
head of the navy boats that took on the
Tigers and had destroyed two suicide craft.
The Defence Ministry said that the suicide
craft had not been able to ram the vessel as
some initial reports indicated, but it had
suffered engine failure when the two
exploded in close vicinity. It has sunk
while being toed to the Kankesanthurai
"According to the
final reports of the battle, P-413 had
engaged the enemy from the front and
destroyed several LTTE attack craft during
the battle. Meanwhile, two suicide boats had
sped towards P-413 making the crew engage
with both suicide boats simultaneously. The
reports said that none of the suicide boats
could reach the craft as P-413 crew had
destroyed them successfully. However, the
two explosions had made the craft lose its
engine power, compelling the crew to
confront the outnumbered enemy but with no
ability to make evasive manoeuvres. The crew
had successfully defended the craft till
assistance arrived during the battle,"
the Defence Ministry said.
Engaged in smuggling
The remaining Tiger
craft had proceeded towards Nachchikuda/Vinddalathivu
coast north of Mannar where the Tigers
maintain supply bases. The military said
that the flotilla was suspected to have been
engaged in smuggling from the south Indian
While the sea battle
dominated the headlines, the Christmas week
was no different to others in the recent
past. Bloody confrontations were reported
right along the northern FDLs and if numbers
cited by both sides are correct over 60
would have died. While most dead are listed
as Missing in Action, the number of injured
combatants to various hospitals give an
indication on how bloody the battles are
becoming whatever the official propaganda
Heavy clashes were
reported around the Adampan area from
December 27 morning, with the Defence
Ministry reporting that government troops
had advanced to Narikulam area just south of
The military has been
pressing ahead with its march into Tiger
areas from the line of control at Admapan. A
week back the Defence Ministry reported that
troops had secured the Tiger checkpoint at
the former Uliyankulam crossover point on
December 22. The crossover point has been
closed since early September.
Two days later, on
December 24, troops said they had overrun a
Tiger supply base code named 'Vietnam' north
of the Vavuniya FDL at Periyapunchikulam. No
Tigers had been present when troops moved in
to the base.
Between 18 to 20
bunkers covered on the top were located at
the base that stretched almost half a
kilometre. A tunnel was also located
stretching 150 m out of the base.
Fighting was also
reported along the Muhamalai Nagarkovil line
south of Jaffna and the newest front that
has opened up, in areas north east of Weli
The Tigers said that
attempts by government troops to move into
their areas from the FDL in Mannar and in
Weli Oya were thwarted by cadres on December
The Tigers said that
troops had tried to break through from the
Adampan area around 7.30 on December 26
morning but had been beaten back. They also
said a deep penetration unit was also made
to retreat in the Weli Oya area, near a
location known as Ceylon Theatres Farm
around 12 noon on the same day.
On the same day clashes
had been reported from the Muhamalai area.
The Tigers said that at least five soldiers
were killed and 11 injured in the attacks.
Later they said they had recovered the
bodies of two slain soldiers in the
Heavy artillery was
traded by both sides along the front lines
in Jaffna and north of Vavuniya as well.
Residents in Jaffna said that heavy fire
could be heard right through the few days
before Christmas and after.
The Tigers have
positioned long range heavy guns at Pooneryn,
south of Jaffna. Some suspect that guns are
sometimes brought to Kalmunai point, at the
northern edge of the
Pooneryn sector where their range
easily encompasses Jaffna town and the
Along the southern FDL,
the guns are placed three to five kilometres
from the FDL and the fire has been mainly
emanating from the Veddalathivu, Pallamoddai
The Tigers are believed
to have placed elite fighting formations
behind the main front lines to face an army
Two claymore attacks
were also reported from Vavuniya and
Kalawanchikuddi in Batticaloa killing four
including two children.
Indonesian merchant ship rings alarm
When an Indonesian
flagged merchant vessel sent out a
distress signal from waters south east
of Sri Lanka, little would the crew
have wondered that they would be
suspected of gun running.
The vessel named MV
Weling was listing for almost 15 days
when a Sri Lankan naval off
shore patrol craft responded to its
distress signal on Christmas day
night, the navy said.
"Navy sailed an
Off Shore Patrol Vessel with utmost
dispatch in the night on 24th
responding to this distress signal
received and rescued the ship's crew;
andbrought to the Colombo harbour in
the morning today. Thereafter they
were handed over to the Indonesian
Embassy as they were all Indonesian
nationals," the navy said.
Initially there were
suspicions that the ship was gun
running for the Tigers as it resembled
some of ships destroyed by the navy in
the deep seas south and south east of
The ship was expected
to be towed to Galle by December 27.
Ironically a similar
incident occurred in waters north of
where Weling was found listing exactly
a year back. That was when the
Jordanian vessel Farah II was found
listing off the seas of Mulaithivu on
December 24. Farah II tale has been
the opposite of the Weling.
The vessel was on its
Durban, South Africa from the
Indian port of Kakinada with 14,000
metric tonnes of rice when it
developed engine trouble off
Mulaithivu on December 22. A distress
call was received at Maritime Rescuing
Coordinating Centre, Falmouth in UK
that the ship was under attack by
pirates on December 23 morning
according to the government.
The air force which was
patrolling over the vessel recorded
Sea Tigers boarding the vessel. The
150 m long vessel which lay about
three to two nautical miles off
Mulaithivu coast during last Christmas
was later towed to the coast by the
Tigers and beached. Some report later
this year said that ship was being
dismantled by the Tigers on the beach
The Tigers however have
denied that they hijacked the ship or
its cargo. They said that Sea Tigers
had responded to rescue the crew.
The hull of another
ship that was stranded in the late
1990's is also located in the same
area where Farah was listing.
the LTTE said of sea battle 1900 hrs,
Dec. 26, 2007
"A team of
fighting patrol boats of the Sea
Tigers of the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Ealam (STLTTE) was confronted by
some six Dvora Attack Craft of the Sri
Lanka Navy (SLN) near Delft around
1100 hrs today.
confrontation lasted for about three
hours. The SLN boats were given fire
support by MI-24 Helicopter Gunships
of the Sri Lanka Air Force.
One Dvora attack craft
of the SLN was sunk by the Black
Tigers of STLTTE around 1245 hrs.
Another SLN craft was
damaged beyond repair around 1300 hrs,
while the SLN craft were attempting to
fall back to Kankesanthurai (KKS)
naval base of the SLN.
While the SLN team was
preparing to tug the damaged craft,
further one of the SLN craft was
severely damaged at 1350 hrs. Tugging
the damaged craft, the SLN team fled
back to KKS naval base.
Four Black Tigers of
STLTTE have sacrificed their lives in
today's confrontation at Delft."
hrs, Dec. 27, 2007
attempt of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces
(SLAF) was thwarted by the LTTE
defenders in Muhamalai frontier at
0730 hrs today. In the following
search operation, the LTTE defenders
found one dead body of SLAF personnel
along with his T-56 assault rifle,
ammunitions and military equipments.
Another attempt of the
SLAF to dominate areas at Palakkuli,
Mannar was also thwarted by the LTTE
frontline troops yesterday (Tuesday).
The confrontation began around 0700
hrs and lasted as late as 1100 hrs. In
the following search, one SLAF dead
body was found along with military
underway to handover above mentioned
two mortal remains of the SLAF
personnel to respective relatives with
the good offices of the International
Society of Red Cross."
hrs, Dec. 28, 2007
"A small scale
infiltration attempt of the Sri Lankan
Armed Forces (SLAF) was promptly
thwarted by the LTTE defenders at
Muhamalai frontier around 0830 hrs
today. Upon retaliation, SLAF team
darted back to fortified areas.
team of the SLAF was also beaten back
at Kandal, Muhamalai yesterday
evening. A few military equipments
were found at the scene in the
following search. One SLAF personnel
was killed and at least five others
sustain injuries in that clash, the
frontline sources say.
The LTTE front liners
suffered no casualties in both the
incidents mentioned above."