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Friday, December 15, 2006

Arms Smuggling to Sri Lanka through Tuticorin

The Indian and local media has highlighted attempts to smuggle in to Sri Lanka via Palk Straits from India arms, explosives and accessories to be used with explosives. There have also been incidents frequently reported of attempts by the LTTE to smuggle arms into the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The Hindu reported in September 2006 to a "major arms haul in A.P " written by Suresh Krishnamoorthy with a photograph by K.Ramesh Babu of Rocket launchers and empty shells seized from a transport company in Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh. The consignment consisted of 42 rocket launches, 1000 empty shells and 35 improvised land mines to be used on "police stations "according to the Police Chief Swaranjit Singh. The arms haul included two tons of spares to rig 16 rocket launchers, 600 shells, high tensile springs used to propel explosives from shells, fins that could be attached to shells...". It is significant that some "rigs" for rocket launchers, hidden by the LTTE were recovered in the Jaffna peninsula recently by Sri Lankan troops.

In Kozhikode, Kerala, the Hindu reported in an article titled " Kozhikode coast turning into a hub of arms smuggling" dated 15.7.2006 that the Director General of the Coast Guard, Suresh Mehta has said the area is fast becoming a center for "arms and narcotics smuggling". It may be too early to draw conclusions whether the LTTE attempts to smuggle "warlike material" has any links to these attempts as investigations are still proceeding.

There was another report titled " 724 kg RDX seized, steps taken to prevent smuggling of arms". The explosives amounting to about 724 kg of High Explosive RDX type was seized by the Indian Security Forces and the Indian police in different parts of the country. In 2005 about 1021 kgs were seized but there was no indication that it was smuggled via Indian Airports.

The report also referred to action taken by the Government in New Delhi to prevent arms been smuggled "across borders".

The latest reports in the Indian and local media refer to 400,000 non – electrical detonators which were detected in Tamil Nadu. There were also reports that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had ordered an investigation on Saturday "after police detained a vehicle carrying a large quantity of non –electrical detonators". An "official" on condition of anonymity had stated the "Indian media described the consignment as explosives which were shipped from Tuticorin to the SLN (Sri Lanka Navy). This was a part of their strategy to conceal clandestine LTTE operations in Tamil Nadu". The Indian police had prevented "an attempt to move a consignment of gelex boosters to the LTTE" The detection was made by the Manamadurai police and from Andhra Pradesh. There is speculation that "Chennai is being used as a transit point to move contraband across the Indo- Lanka maritime boundary". However the Sri Lankan mission in Chennai had clarified that the order for the 400,000 non electrical detonators had been placed last year and had contacted the government "even before " the Chief Minister ordered the probe". The report also states the Chief minister had "ordered the probe after Union External Minister Pranab Mukerjee and Defence Minister A.K.Anthony denied that the government allowed the export of explosives to Sri Lanka".

According to media reports the SLN placed the order which as to be "issued through the Commercial Explosives and Firearms Unit for commercial purposes".

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Navy has "intercepted several vessels in the Gulf of Mannar " in the year 2006 and there was an instance when the Navy seized an Indian trawler with 60,000 electrical detonators "destined for the LTTE".

An Associated Press report published on 16.11.2006 quoting the Sri Lankan government spokesman states, "We now have credible evidence (that) fishing trawlers registered in India are being used by the Tiger's " and that the government has formally asked India to " take steps to stop the alleged arms smuggling".

Source: National Security Media Center, Sri Lanka

1 comment:

RAMANEAN said...

you are a good detective

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