Sri Lanka suicide attack highlights lethal rebel ‘navy’

Oct 18, 2006 (AFP) – A seaborne attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels on the Sri Lankan port town of Galle on Wednesday has highlighted the guerrillas’ lethal “Sea Tiger” arm, whose suicide wing claims to have inspired Al-Qaeda. Suspected rebel suicide bombers using at least five boats infiltrated Galle’s harbour and attacked a key naval base, detonating powerful explosions that killed at least two people and injured 20, officials and the police said.

The Sea Tigers are supposedly restricted from venturing out to sea under a ceasefire agreed in 2002 by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government.

But the warring parties have fought deadly naval battles in recent months during an upsurge in violence that has left the truce in tatters, cost more than 2,300 lives, and now threatens peace talks planned for later this month.

The attackers who infiltrated Galle were disguised as fishermen, Sri Lanka’s defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told AFP, adding, “obviously they have come to Galle on a suicide mission”.

Authorities later imposed a curfew on the town, whose idyllic beaches had regained some of their popularity with foreign tourists after Galle was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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