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Bombers Attack Ship in Sri Lanka

October 30, 2001

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Suicide bombers thought to be Tamil Tiger rebels rammed explosive-laden boats into a fuel ship with 28 people on board Tuesday, sparking a fire and sinking the vessel, the Defense Ministry said.

Three people were missing, while the navy rescued 25 others from the M.T. Silk Pride, ministry spokesman Brig. Sanath Karunaratne said.

At least five rebels boats were involved in the attack off the port of Point Pedro _ located on the northern Jaffna peninsula, which is a main battle zone in the the separatist war by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Such rebel boats typically carry two militants each, Karunaratne said.

``We do not have definitive information as to how many terrorists may have died,″ he said, though he said it was likely 10 militants were killed in the attack.

The vessel, chartered by the government, was carrying 660 tons of fuel for Jaffna, the main city in the north, and had crew and navy personnel on board.

The Jaffna Peninsula can be reached only by sea or air since a stretch of road connecting it to the mainland is controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighting for a homeland for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils.

Karunaratne said the rebel boats, loaded with explosives, rammed into the ship. He blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the attack. No one has claimed responsibility.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels have been fighting for a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north and east since 1983. More than 64,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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