It is now confirmed that the vessel sunk this morning by SLN off Matara seas was carrying at least 10,000 artillery shells for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) military machine. SLN fast attack craft (FAC) engaged and destroyed the ship today morning when it didn't comply to SLN command and instead opened fire on nearby FAC's.
Navy divers have managed to find several boxes of artillery shells, which were designed for the use with 152MM, 130MM and 122MM artillery guns. Judging by the explosions that occurred when the vessel caught fire, it is assumed that at least 10,000 artillery shells were on board. Last night's sea battle (see previous article) is suspected to be a diversionary tactic of the tigers.
The LTTE is in possession of at least (3) 152MM artillery guns (3 captured from SLA when Elephant Pass fell), (6) 122MM artillery guns (6 captured from SLA when Mullathiv base fell) and (4) 130MM artillery guns. Recently, 53rd division HQ came under 130MM artillery fire. More than 30 shells were fired and 17 of these fell inside base premises. Later it was identified by SLA that 130MM fire came from four different locations. Therefore the LTTE is suspected to be in possession of at least (4) 130MM artillery guns. Other than these, an unknown number of artillery guns are speculated to be smuggled in by the tigers during the 2002-2005 period under the cover of the CFA. Intelligence sources indicate that several of these guns were lost to the recent airstrikes by the SLAF. It is not possible to give exact details of the LTTE artillery strength. SL army, in contrast, have more than 200 artillery guns in various bases in north and east.
However, all artillery guns belonging to LTTE in the eastern province have been either captured or destroyed by the SL armed forces. (3) 152MM guns and parts of two 122MM cannons were found by the Special Forces during Vakarai operation. One of the 122MM guns is speculated to be destroyed by a Commando Unit of the Karuna Faction (TMVP).