COLOMBO, Sept 11, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s navy on Tuesday claimed its biggest success against the Tamil Tiger rebels, saying it had virtually wiped out the separatist group’s ability to smuggle arms into the country.
More than 5,400 people have been killed in a new wave of fighting since December 2005 when a Norwegian-brokered truce began to unravel.
The navy said it had destroyed three rebel gun-running vessels offshore in separate battles, killing up to 45 guerrillas and eliminating all but one of the Tigers’ sea fleet, which had included 10 ships.
Navy chief Wasantha Karannagoda said the rebel ships were detected 600 kilometres (375 miles) off the island’s southeastern coast early Tuesday and engaged by naval craft.
“Each vessel had between 12 to 15 cadres… and we think up to about 45 may have been killed,” Karannagoda told reporters here, adding that the navy had not suffered any casualties.
“This is our biggest single attack against the Tigers,” Karannagoda said.
The navy chief said the Tigers had fired 120-millimetre mortar bombs from the