COLOMBO, May 10 (Reuters) - A rebel Black Tiger suicide
squad sank a Sri Lanka naval vessel in the eastern port of
Trincomalee on Saturday, the second attack in the area in hours
as locals readied to go to the polls.
The military reported no naval casualties in the attack
which took place after a bomb killed 11 people in a crowded
cafe also in the east on Friday night.
The elections are part of the government's blueprint for
devolution in minority Tamil areas. It hopes the vote, the
first of its kind in the region in two decades, will go
hand-in-hand with a push to win the war in which tens of
thousands of people have died.
Navy spokesman Commander D.K.P Dassanayake said a logistics
vessel had been hit by an underwater explosion in Saturday's
The Tigers, fighting for an independent state in the north
and east, were not available for comment on the attack but
pro-rebel website www.tamilnet.com quoted rebels as saying that
a supply ship had been sunk.
Tamilnet said Black Tigers, or underwater suicide bombers,
had attacked the vessel at 2:23 a.m. "The attack was carried
out when the supply vessel was loaded with explosives to be
transported to KKS Harbour in Jaffna," it said.
Analysts say both the government and rebels often inflate
enemy death tolls and play down their own losses. The reports
are rarely possible to verify independently.
After driving the Tamil Tiger rebels from the east, the
armed forces are now focused on Tiger-held areas in north,
intensifying fighting in a 25-year-old civil war that has
killed an estimated 70,000 people since 1983.
Fighting between government forces and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has intensified since the
government formally pulled out of a 6-year-old ceasefire pact
in January, though a renewed civil war has been raging since
Security had been tightened for Saturday's polls in the
districts of Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa.