Sri Lanka navy sinks suspected rebel gun-running ships

Sept 11, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s navy sank at least three suspected Tamil Tiger gun-running vessels off the island’s southeastern sea board, navy officials said Tuesday. Clashes between suspected Tamil Tiger ships and the Sri Lankan navy have escalated in recent months amid heavy fighting in the island’s northern and eastern regions. Naval craft intercepted the ships off Sri Lanka’s coast late Monday, said a navy official who declined to be named.

He said the vessels were each about 70 metres (230-feet) long and were marked with the names “Mayoshi,” “Seishin,” and “Koshi” but authorities believed the identities were bogus.

Naval officials said the Tamil rebels may have been trying to smuggle in heavy weaponry and ammunition to support their struggle against security forces in the northern and eastern parts of the island.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the attack. Tiger rebels were not immediately available for comment.

Sri Lanka’s navy has carried out several attacks against suspected Tamil Tiger gun-running ships in recent months.

In March, the defence ministry said the navy sank two cargo ships believed to be smuggling weapo