Maldives sink Sri
Krishna hijacked by Sea Tigers
*Seize four terrorists, rescue Indian skipper
*Lanka likely to seek extradition
*Latest bid to replenish depleted arsenal thwarted
by Shamindra Ferdinando
LTTE efforts to replenish its depleted arsenal suffered a serious
setback with the Maldivian Coast Guard destroying a large Indian fishing
trawler, Sri Krishna, carrying a sizeable consignment of arms, ammunition
and equipment in their southern territorial waters.
The 25 meter vessel commandeered by Sea Tigers went down near Gaaf
Alif waters at 8.25 am following a 12-hour stand-off, a Sri Lankan Navy
official said. The Coast Guard had swung into action after a vessel
flying a Sri Lankan flag fired at a Maldivian dhoni (fishing craft)
on Wednesday afternoon.
Of the nine-member crew, four died in the confrontation with the Coast
Guard vessel Huravee. The Maldivians rescued four Sea Tigers and an
Indian believed to be the captain of the vessel who jumped overboard
shortly after Huravee confronted the intruding vessel. Two Coast Guard
vessels are believed to have been involved in the confrontation. The
Indian was one of the 12-member Sri Krishna crew seized by the Sea Tigers
on March 4. The LTTE is believed to have transferred 11 Indians to the
Vanni-mainland, while retaining the services of the ships captain.
The confrontation took place against the backdrop of Indian Defence
Minister A. K. Anthonys recent accusation that the Sri Lanka Navy
(SLN) was responsible for a series of attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen
resulting in the deaths of 77 civilians between 1991 and mid-April 2007.
Yesterdays destruction is the first of a vessel carrying arms
since the Indian Navy attack on MV Ahat in January 1993.
LTTE Political Wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan recently accused the
SLN of seizing Sri Krishna.
The Q Branch of the Indian CID recently, on April 26, revealed
the seizure of the large Indian fishing vessel along with 12 Indians
- ten from Kanyakumari and one each from Thoothukudi and Kerala.
Sea Tigers are believed to have seized the vessel near the Indo-Lanka
maritime boundary. The missing vessel is registered with Verkodu Visai
Padahu Meenavar Sangam Verkodu, Rameswaram.
Earlier, India sought Sri Lankas assistance to track down the
vessel which the fishing sangam (association) believed may have reached
"Now there is irrefutable evidence to link the LTTE with the seizure
of Sri Krishna along with the crew," a military official said.
The Q branch revelation followed the interrogation of six
Sri Lankan Tamils arrested on April 11 by the Indian Coast Guard off
the Tuticorin coast after a mechanical snag in their boat, Maria, caused
them to drift into Indian waters. The investigators identified them
as members of special Sea Tiger squads deployed to ferry arms, ammunition
and equipment from an LTTE ship stationed on the high seas.
According to a two-page note issued by Tamil Nadu Director General
of Police, obtained by the Colombo foreign ministry, the squad seized
by the Indian Coast Guard was one of the several units ferrying weapons
and ammunition to their camps from an LTTE ship stationed on the high
seas. Under interrogation, the six Sri Lankans had claimed that one
of the squads, engaged in the mid-sea arms transfer, on March 29 killed
five Tamil Nadu fishermen off Kanyakumari coast believing the Indians
were monitoring their movements.
Sri Lanka yesterday sought access to Sea Tigers in Maldivian custody.
Authoritative sources expressed the belief that the Maldivian government
would quickly give the SLN an opportunity to question the terrorists.
Sri Lanka is expected to seek their extradition after Maldives completed
Since last September, the SLN destroyed four large LTTE ships on the
Last November, the SLN rescued an Indian fisherman after blowing up
an Indian trawler which was being commandeered by Sea Tigers. He was
later repatriated although a section of the military suspected the Indian
may have been involved with Sea Tigers.
Authoritative sources said Sri Lanka requested access to five personsthree
Sri Lankan Tamils and two Indians arrested on February 13 off off Kodiakarai
and the six arrested on April 11. Sri Lankan intelligence services want
to interrogate the suspects allegedly involved in moving arms, ammunition
and equipment between Tamil Nadu and areas under LTTE-control in northern
Sri Lanka. But India is yet to respond to Sri Lankas request.
Senior officials said that India may review the request in the wake
of the incident in Maldivian waters
The Indian Coast Guard seized the explosives-laden fibre glass boat
carrying three Sri Lankans and two Indians and bomb making chemicals
and a suicide belt. The suspects included a senior LTTE cadre.
Unlike the previous detections made off the Tamil Nadu coast, the February
seizure was made as the boat was heading towards Tamil Nadu. There had
been no fishing gear onboard the vessel which was subsequently taken
to the high seas and blasted by Indian security services.
Coast Guard Regional Commander Rajendra Singh is on record saying that
the suicide belt was meant to cause destruction at a big temple celebration
in Tamil Nadu.
Sri Lankan officials emphasized the need to share intelligence between
the two countries. "We are fully aware of the Tamil Nadu factor,"
one official said. But politics should not be allowed to impede anti-terrorist
operations, he said, pointing out that a spate of recent incidents at
sea underscored a coordinated action plan to tackle Sea Tigers and their
associates in Tamil Nadu.