LTTE poses threat to SSCP – Experts; scrap Setu project
By KUMAR CHELLAPPAN
Chennai (Deccan Chronicle, 28 March, 2008)
Ships passing through the proposed Sethusamudram Shipping Channel (SSCP) will be under the mercy of Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), according to leading security analysts. They point out that Sea Tigers have established their supremacy as a ‘state-of-the-art maritime terrorist organisation' in the Indian Ocean region, especially the SSCP area which is under construction. Last Saturday's blowing up of an Advanced Patrol Vessel belonging substantiates the ‘expertise' of the Sea Tigers in mining fast moving sea vessels. "Sea Tigers, has effectively gained control in the waters off Jaffna and the north east of Sri Lanka," said Dr Peter Lehr, security scientist, University of St Andrews, UK. "Sea Tigers are a threat to Indian and Sri Lankan shipping," said Dr Lehr.Dr Arabinda Acharya, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, pointed out that the Sea Tigers periodically hijacked ships passing through their waters. "Hijackings are carried out irrespective of the nationality. Irish Mona, Princess Wave, Athena, Missen, Morong Bong, are some of the major cargo vessels hijacked by the Sea Tigers," said Dr Acharya. A serving chief officer of a leading navigation company told this newspaper that ships below 30,000 DWT capacity were more vulnerable to hijacking in the waters around the North East Sri Lanka.
"These ships are manned by hardly 20 persons and it is not a tough task for the Tigers to overpower them and hijack the ships," said the skipper who did not want to be named. It may be noted that SSCP is meant for smaller ships.
Of late, the LTTE's arms inventory has been strengthened by underwater scooters purchased from Denmark to attack military as well as civilian commercial vessels, according to Dr Acharya. Black Sea Tigers, the suicide wing of Sea Tigers, have become a highly lethal weapon against the Sri Lankan Navy. "The LTTE operatives are well trained in scuba diving and in the use of under water explosive devises including sea mines," said Dr Acharya.