Sri Lanka police investigate Tigers’ limpet style sea mines

June 18, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan police Sunday were investigating a new type of improvised sea mine developed by Tamil Tiger rebels to target naval craft, police chief Chandra Fernando said Sunday. Police have questioned four of five men arrested Saturday while laying the mines, which are similar to limpet mines.

They stick magnetically to a ship’s hull and can be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or remotely, Fernando said.

“These are improvised sea mines weighing about 10 to 15 kilograms (33 pounds),” Fernando said, adding that the mines were being transported in a freezer truck used for moving fish.

One of the five men arrested Saturday committed suicide by swallowing cyanide.

A second man who also took cyanide is in hospital, officials said.

Two mines exploded prematurely without causing any harm, Fernando said, adding that the men who were arrested may have had eight of the devices with them.

Police recovered two mines floating off the coast of Wennapuwa, 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of the capital.

Navy spokesman P.D.K. Dassanayake said it was the first time they had come across the use of magnetic mines by the Tigers who have recently stepped up their use