South Asia News
Sri Lanka Navy claims seizure of Tamil rebel ship
Dec 21, 2009, 8:56 GMT
Colombo - The Sri Lanka Navy has seized a ship reported to have been used by Tamil rebels to smuggle weapons, the Defence Ministry said Monday.
The vessel, known as the MV Princess Cristina, was escorted to Colombo harbour, the ministry said.
It did not say where the 89-metre-long ship was seized or the country of origin of the carrier.
The vessel was reported to have been seized based on information provided by a key Tamil rebel now in the custody of the government. The suspect, known as Kumaran Pathmanathan, was arrested in Thailand.
The Defence Ministry charged that the ship was also used in human trafficking.
Government troops ended a 26-year civil war in northern and eastern Sri Lanka in May after killing the Tamil rebel leadership. Before their defeat, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were known to have their own ships and have a navy.
In a separate development, the government said Monday that a key highway between the north and the south opened to the public without any restrictions.
Although the war was ended in May, the A9 road between the northern Jaffna Peninsula and the south of the country had been open only to members of the public travelling with an army escort and police clearance.
'We have fully opened the road, and no registration process is required,' military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The only land route from the north was initially closed in 1990 and was until now open only during a ceasefire from 2002 to 2006, but at that time, part of the road was under the control of the LTTE.