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Fishing trawler would have been hijacked by Sea Tigers, many suspect

By Walter Jayawardhana

THE MISSING FISHING TRAWLER FROM KALPITIYA IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN HIJACKED IN MID SEA BY SEA TIGERS

The Sri Lankan trawler missing from March 3 is believed to have been hijacked by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

On many times before the Sri Lankan separatist group who depend heavily on pirated sea vessels for the transportation of arms have hijacked ships in the Indian Ocean.

After the Sri Lanka Navy received third party information the that the vessel had been hijacked in mid seas and after the the Indian Coast Guard has reported that the trawler has vanished with out any trace, It was rampantly speculated in Colombo that most probably the missing craft would have been hijacked by the terrorist group, Tamil Tigers.

It is believed the thirty feet long fishing vessel was hijacked by the terrorists in mid sea North East of the South Indian port of Thoothukudi.

On March 6 the Indian Coast Guard said it was calling off a search mission it had launched off Tuticorin to locate a Sri Lankan trawler that was on March 4 reported missing.

“We have searched the entire region. We took up coordinated sea-air search from Monday. We have not found any trace of the trawler and hence we have called off the search,” said Inspector-General Rajender Singh, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).

The Indian Defense Attache in their Colombo High Commission initially informed the Coast Guard headquarters that the trawler, `Hasarangu Dua,’ was reported missing on March 4. Its last known position was 50 miles east of Tuticorin, in international waters, the message said.

The Coast Guard said it searched the area with CGS Varuna acting on the information provided by the Defense Attache but found no trace of the missing vessel. The search was coordinated by a helicopter and a Dornier aircraft in the area looking out for a trawler of the description, the Coast Guard said.

The Colombo Defense Attache wrote again on March 5 that “the Sri Lankan Naval Headquarters indicated that the vessel may have been taken over by the LTTE. However, these reports are being verified. The vessel was reportedly heading towards Tuticorin at 4 knots.”

The Coast Guard officials said if the said trawler was moving at 4 knots the four coast guard vessels in the vicinity should have definitely seen it. It said a barrier patrol was on on the boundary of the international waters and a fast moving craft was looking for it in the shallower waters near the Indian coast.

The trawler according to the Sri Lankan navy has set sail on March 3 from Kalpitiya. The navy has received third party information from some fishermen in the vicinity that it was hijacked. All attempts to contact the trawler by radio has failed.

Meanwhile Ramanathapuram police said it has looked in all the 12 islets in the Bay of Mannar for the boat but failed.

R. Thirugnanam the Superintendent of Police of the Ramanathapuram police said police teams have been deployed to investigate about reports that a Sri Lankan fishing boat was hijacked by the LTTE’s Sea Tigers north-east of Thoothukudi in the mid sea. Thirugnanam also said that more police personnel have been deployed to increase surveillance in coastal areas. Around 15 check-posts have been alerted to inspect all vehicles round the clock, the SP said and added that the phone numbers and mobile numbers of police officials and nearby police stations, have been given to village headmen, VAOs, representatives of fishermen’s associations and business outlets to pass on information from 118 coastal villages of the district. The special police teams had also conducted surprise raids at Thondi, Keelakarai, Valinokkam and other coastal areas on Tuesday night, the SP said.

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March 10, 2007 - Posted by | News and politics

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