Tiger arms ship originated in Indonesia, more on the way: Sri Lanka

Chandi Dharmaratne

COLOMBO, Sept 19, 2006 (AFP) – A ship suspected of ferrying weapons to Tamil rebels that was sunk by the Sri Lankan military originated in Indonesia and more vessels may be on the way, a government minister said Tuesday.

The ship was sunk Sunday off Sri Lanka’s east coast by naval ships and aircraft after a tip-off from a neighboring country, defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said, without elaborating.

“We know that the ship originated from a port in Indonesia and there could be at least two other similar ships,” Rambukwella said. “We are on the look-out and obviously we had good information from a friendly country.”

Rambukwella said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were probably trying to smuggle in artillery and anti-aircraft missiles after suffering a string of setbacks in recent clashes with the military in the north and east.

There has been an upsurge in violence in the decades-old ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka with more than 1,500 people killed since December in tit-for-tat killings, despite a ceasefire in place since 2002.

Fighting has been particularly intense around the Trincomalee district, home to a major airbase and naval port, and in the northern peninsula of Jaffna,