Two suspected Tamil tiger arms transport vessels were intercepted by the Sri Lankan navy (SLN) today at around 9.30AM and at 12.30PM. The suspected ships were detected 400Km off Pothuvil coast.
First suspicious ship was detected by SLN's offshore patrol boats patrolling the eastern seas. The ship was not able to correctly identify itself upon request of identification data. Naval vessels which tried to close in and surround the suspicious ship were hit by rounds of medium caliber armament fire. Navy returned fire and the retaliatory fire caused several explosions in the suspected ship. By 9AM the suspicious ship was completely destroyed and was submerged in the sea. Later, another ship was detected in the same area. This ship, which was traveling without a flag, fired at the SLN gunboats when ordered to identify itself. This ship too was sunk due to retaliation fire from SLN gunboats.
Judging by the explosions which occurred after the ships were hit, it can be concluded that they had a significant amount of explosives on board. Exact type of weapons which were on board is not yet determined. The first ship was 70-75m long and could carry around 1500-2000 tonnes of cargo. Second ship was smaller than the first but it had the capability to around 750-1000 tonnes of cargo.
This is the second major tiger arms transport intercepted by the Navy during the month of March. Tigers lost a $35 million (LKR 3.5 Billion) worth of arms and a $70 million (LKR 7 Billion) worth large ship in the previous incident.