Sri Lankan gunboat crippled in firefight

May 11, 2006 (AFP) – At least one Sri Lankan naval gunboat was “disabled” following a heavy fire fight Thursday with suspected Tamil Tiger rebel craft off the island’s northern waters, military sources said. A flotilla of Tamil Tiger boats attacked the Israeli-built patrol craft escorting a ferry transporting some 700 government soldiers off the waters of Vettilaikerni, the sources said.

“The firefight is still going on and at least one Dvora fast attack craft was hit and crippled,” a military source here said.

There has been a surge of clashes between the navy and the Tamil Tigers in recent months despite a truce put in place by peace broker Norway since February 2002. There was another confrontation with a naval gunboat earlier Thursday in the neighbouring district of Trincomalee, but there were no casualties, military officials said.