Tamil suicide boat rams tanker

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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 16:06 GMT

Tamil suicide boat rams tanker

A suicide bomber struck in Colombo on Monday

A Tamil Tiger suicide boat packed with explosives has rammed an oil tanker off northern Sri Lanka, setting the ship on fire, military officials said. Navy patrols are reported to have rescued 12 crew members and 13 security personnel from the tanker, named as the MV Silk Pride, but three people are missing.

Suicide bombings are a Tamil Tiger weapon

The Associated Press news agency reported that the ship had sunk, but other reports said it was still ablaze.

On Monday a suicide bomber killed himself and three others in Colombo, as campaigning for parliamentary elections on 5 December got under way.

Defence ministry spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said the latest attack happened about 12 nautical miles north of the Jaffna peninsula.

At least five rebel boats took part in the attack and one of them rammed the tanker, which was carrying more than 650 tonnes of diesel and kerosene oil to Jaffna.

The vessel had set off from the north-eastern port of Trincomalee.

The initial blast was followed by a second explosion.

Ships targeted before

It is believed that Monday's attack in Colombo may have been at attempt to assassinate Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.

The suicide bomber blew himself up when cornered by police.

Rebels have tried before to target merchant ships and navy craft off the north of the island.

In September they attempted a similar suicide attack against a merchant ship transporting about 1,200 government soldiers to the Jaffna peninsula.

The attack was repulsed and the rebels admitted losing at least five of their elite suicide bombers.

The Tamil Tigers are campaigning for independence in north-eastern Sri Lanka.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 30, 2001


Oil tanker set ablaze in Tamil Tiger suicide attack Wednesday October 31 2001 A TAMIL Tiger suicide boat struck an oil tanker off the northern tip of Sri Lanka yesterday, reports Reuters. "One suicide boat hit the tanker and it is on fire," said military spokesman Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne. He said fighting around the MV Silk Pride had ceased and 13 military personnel and 12 civilians had been rescued. Three military personnel were missing.

The ship, carrying 275 tonnes of diesel, was badly damaged. The attack comes a day after a suicide bomber blew up himself and three others in Colombo at the start of the campaign for parliamentary elections on December 5.

************* IMPORTANT NOTE: This incident involved an extremely SMALL coastal tanker, not a supertanker or anything like it.

Historically, unless empty, large tankers are much, much harder to serious damage. Remember the "Tanker war" in the Persian Gulf in the late 80's? Anti-ship mines and anti-ship (Exocet) missiles were not causing serious damage. About the only thing able to reliably sink a large tanker are torpedoes, which explode under the keel. The ship's back is broken. But, the explosive force is directed into the tanks, and thus a fire results.

But, an empty tanker usually has fumes in their tanks which can sympathetically explode with such an attack. The danger there is more serious - in fact, a number of empty tankers have spontaneously exploded at sea. Modern tankers try to fill their tanks with cardon monoxide and to scavange any fumes to reduce this risk.

-- Rich Marsh (marshr@airmail.net), October 31, 2001.

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