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LTTE Hijacked Indian Fishing trawler destroyed while arms smuggling

Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order

Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) yesterday (17th) destroyed a 68 feet long fishing trawler that had been carrying weapons to the LTTE terrorists. The fishing trawler which is now identified as "Sri Krishna" was known to be sunk in the Maldivian waters off Gaaff Alif atoll around 8.30a.m.

The suspected trawler flying Sri Lankan ensign was first observed by the Maldivian fishermen on Wednesday (16th) afternoon. As the vessel had opened fire at a local fishing "Dhoni" around 1.p.m; the matter was informed to the MDNF authorities.

According to MDNF sources, the coastguard boat "Huravee" was deployed to pursue the suspected trawler. By Wednesday evening, Huravee had come into the vicinity of the suspected trawler and it was then the first occupant of the trawler had jumped overboard. The man overboard was immediately rescued by the Huravee crew.

Government Spokesman of Maldives, Mohamed Hussein Shareef said that it was this crewmember who had revealed the LTTE connection to the incident. The crewmember speaking in South Indian Malayalam language had identified himself as a South Indian fisherman and told the coastguards that the trawler was smuggling arms and ammo for the LTTE.

He has further revealed that the four LTTE terrorists had hijacked the fishing vessel and threw the other crew members overboard along with the fishing equipment. The man has also claimed that he was spared because he is the Technical Officer on the boat, and was needed by the crew in case of breakdown.

The MDNF after a nightlong pursuit closed up the trawler on Thursday morning and ordered it to be stopped. However, the trawler had ignored the orders and opened fire at the approaching coastguard boat. Huravee acting on self-defense had retaliated to the attack and destroyed the trawler that went up in huge explosions.

Meanwhile, four more occupants who had jumped overboard from the trawler were rescued by the coastguards. Suppose the evidence given by the first occupant is true, these four suspects should be the LTTE terrorists who had hijacked the fishing trawler and possibly murdered the eleven South Asian fishermen.

According to the available information, Indian Fishing trawler "Sri Krishna" had left for fishing from Kodimunai-Kanyakumari in Kerala State on 7th March 2007. The boat said to have a crew of 12 Indians, comprising one Kerala and eleven Tamil Nadu people. The boat had gone on missing since 12th March from its last known position 30 Nautical Miles South East of Pamban Island (in Indian waters close to International Maritime Border Line).

On 11th April Indian coastguards apprehended a trawler named "Mariya" and two "Vallams" (small fishing boats) along with 12 suspects, while loitering in the Indian waters. Six of the suspects were positively identified as LTTE terrorists and the others were as Indian fishermen under the LTTE's captivity. As confessed by the arrested LTTE cadres, the 12 fishermen belonged to Sri Krishna had been held hostage by the LTTE terrorists in their Wanni den. However, the evidence given by the Indian fisherman rescued by the MDNF indicates that the 11 others belonged to Sri Krishna may possibly dead.

Before all these incidents unravelled, pro-LTTE political parties in Tamil Nadu engaged in a huge propaganda campaign against SL saying that SL Navy was responsible for the missing fishermen. These political parties not only mislead the aggrieved relatives of the missing fishermen but also exploited their emotions to carryout propaganda campaign to support the very same murderers of their loved ones.

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