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Cablegate: Sri Lankan Navy Craft Sunk in Northeast; Continued

VZCZCXRO2739
OO RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0297 0841128
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241128Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7902
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0805
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7793
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5981
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4327
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1928
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4326
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3422
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 8407
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5885
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0595
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2686
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000297

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS PTER PHUM CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKAN NAVY CRAFT SUNK IN NORTHEAST; CONTINUED
FIGHTING IN MANNAR


1. (U) On March 22, a Sri Lankan Navy "Dvora" fast attack
craft was sunk around 2:00 am while on patrol near Nayaru,
south of Mullaitivu, the Defense Ministry said. Ten of 16
crew members were missing. Pro-Tamil Tiger sources claimed
that suicide Sea Tiger crafts destroyed the Navy boat after a
45-minute firefight, and that three rebels and 14 sailors
were killed. The Defence Ministry, however, said the Navy
boat probably struck a sea mine, and ruled out a Sea Tiger
attack. Later that afternoon, Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF)
jets bombed LTTE bases in the Nayaru area. The Navy craft
was the second sunk by rebels since the GSL's withdrawal from
the Ceasefire Agreement in January.

2. (SBU) On March 21, two soldiers were killed and six
injured in an LTTE landmine explosion in Mannar district.
The SLAF subsequently carried out raids on Sea Tiger radar
and command positions near Nayaru and Puthukudyiruppu. Some
observers speculate that these attacks may have motivated the
Sea Tigers to target the Navy patrol boat.

3. (U) Separately, the military said that on March 22 its
forces in Mannar district had overrun LTTE positions near
Parayanakulam, taking control of a strategically important
one square kilometer area. Government sources claim as many
as 100 LTTE cadres and five soldiers were killed in weekend
fighting in Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya. Pro-LTTE websites
claim the Tigers killed 55 government troops and wounded
another 120. Heavy rains and floodwaters have impeded the
SLA's progress in the North, hampering their use of armored
vehicles and helicopter gunships. Military spokesman
Brigadier Udaya Nanyakkara said that flooding had caused
supply bottlenecks.
BLAKE

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