Navy retaliated only after
provocation - Navy Spokesman
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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Date: March 11, 2003 - 11.10