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Sri Lanka seizes boat funded by Tiger backers

[Reuters, Friday, 5 June 2009 05:59 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s navy said on Thursday it had intercepted a freighter funded by Tamil Tiger sympathizers bound for formerly rebel-held areas, which reached Sri Lankan waters three weeks after the rebels lost a 25-year war.

Navy ships intercepted the Captain Ali, funded by a British-based group that calls itself Mercy Mission to Vanni, 160 km (100 miles) west of the Indian Ocean island’s capital and main port, Colombo.

Mercy Mission to Vanni had said it was bringing humanitarian supplies to Sri Lanka, but the government and diplomats said it was a thinly veiled attempt to help the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) avoid imminent defeat.

"We rounded up the ship and it’s being brought closer to shore for checking. We know that it was coming with no local agent, no details of the cargo and the cargo was loaded by pro-LTTE (people) in the U.K. and France," Navy spokesman Captain Mahesh Karunaratne said.

None of the crew of 15, including a former member of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission which kept watch over a barely-observed 2002 ceasefire, were arrested, but were being questioned, he said.

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