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Lankan rebels attacks two naval craft

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Dec 22, IRNA
Lanka-LTTE-Navy attack
Sri Lankan rebels, the Tamil Tigers, today attacked a Navy patrol off the island's northwestern coast, triggering a sea battle which led to the capture of seven rebels, but three sailors were feared killed after being taken away by the guerillas.

The Tigers attacked two naval craft off Mannar sparking the fierce exchange of fire, navy spokesman Jayantha Perera said.

"They have taken away three sailors. We think they have been killed already," he said, adding that the navy had apprehended seven of the Tiger attackers.

One Sri Lankan sailor aboard a patrol craft escaped with injuries, he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers.

The Sri Lankan government condemned the attack as a violation of the Norway-brokered ceasefire which has been in place since 2002.

Urging the international community to mount pressure on the Tiger rebels to stop the latest cycle of violence, the government's spokesman and Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said they have lodged a complaint with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) on today's attack saying it was a violation of the ceasefire arranged by Norway.

He said the guerillas of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) appeared to ignore a statement by Sri Lanka's key financial backers -- the US, European Union, Japan and Norway -- to stop all violence.

Thirty-nine people have been killed this month alone in violence linked to the ethnic conflict, heightening fears about the future of an already faltering ceasefire.

Six policemen were also wounded today in Northern Jaffna Peninsula in a grenade attack on a checkpoint at Nallur, police said.

Four more policemen were hurt in a similar attack last night, they added.


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