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Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK

World: South Asia

Sri Lanka navy sinks Tiger boats

The clash took place off the north-east coast

By Susannah Price in Colombo

The Sri Lankan navy and air force have clashed with Tamil Tiger guerrilla boats off the north-east coast.

The Sri Lankan Defence Ministry said the Tiger boats were detected off the coast of Pulmoddai, north of Trincomalee, during the early hours of the morning.

[ image:  ]
The ministry said the navy used heavy guns in a battle which lasted several hours.

Navy sources said a civilian fisherman was killed and another injured.

They said two boats which were apparently heavily armed were destroyed.

Three other rebel boats which were damaged headed north towards the Tiger base of Mullaitivu and were attacked by the air force.

No indication of casualties

The number of casualties is not known.

One local report said the navy had opened fire towards the coast where several boats were fishing.

The north-east area has been tense recently with two explosions in or near Batticaloa.

The Defence Ministry also said Tigers had hijacked four fishing trawlers near Trincomalee on Saturday and abducted four fishermen before the navy intervened.

It also said 13 Tigers were killed over the weekend in separate incidents in Batticaloa, Jaffna and the Wanni area.

Families relocate

Meanwhile, more than a hundred families in Kudapokuna in Polonaruwa district are reported to have left their village after their police post was removed four days ago.

Tiger fighters were said to have already entered the village which they had attacked twice in recent years, although officials said the police had only been moved two kilometres.

In many such areas, the security forces control the roads and villages during the day and the Tigers move in at night.

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