Navy retaliated only after provocation - Navy Spokesman
[March 11, 2003 - 11.10 GMT]

The Navy reiterated today that it had retaliated only after being fired at by the suspect vessel, in the incident involving the Sri Lanka Navy and an unidentified vessel in the northeast of Sri Lanka, yesterday.

Navy Spokesman Capt. Jayantha Perera said that the incident occurred in an area well within the Navy’s area of operation.

The Sri Lanka Navy having received information on March 9, 2003 that a vessel carrying warlike material was approaching the Mullaitivu coast diverted the Navy’s (SLNS) Sayura, which was on a route patrol in the area and instructed to immediately investigate. The suspect vessel was identified and challenged at approximately 185 nautical miles north-east of Mullaitivu.

The vessel was not flying the flag of any State, nor was any name displayed on its bows.

Repeated requests to the vessel from the Navy on the International Maritime Communication Channel to identify itself were unsuccessful.

The SLNS Sayura then ordered the suspect vessel to stop in order to satisfy itself that it did not pose a serious security threat to the State.

The suspect vessel ignoring the command to stop began to take evasive action and attempted to escape. To prevent this the Navy vessel had approached the suspect vessel and fired a few warning shots in the air. The latter then opened fire, resulting in injury to three sailors and one officer onboard and damaging the bridge of the Navy vessel.

The Navy had retaliated strongly and in self-defence when the vessel had fired back. The unidentified vessel caught fire and sank.

“The Navy personnel injured in the clash are receiving medical treatment, while the damaged Navy boat has been brought back to Trincomalee,” Capt. Perera said.






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Last Updated Date: March 11, 2003  - 11.10 GMT.


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