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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Cargo boat 'looted off Sri Lanka'
Farah III <i>(Photo supplied by Sri Lankan authorities)</i>
The Farah III ran into trouble last December (Photo supplied by Sri Lankan authorities)
A Jordanian firm whose ship ran aground off Sri Lanka's north-east coast says it believes it has been stripped bare.

Everything from lights to generators and its cargo of rice was reported to have been taken, the company said.

The vessel, the Farah III, ran into mechanical trouble near Mullaitivu, an area held by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The rebels handed the crew over to the Red Cross. They denied accusations by the Sri Lankan military that they had staged a pirate attack on the ship.

'Bare'

Sayed Sulaiman, the chairman of the ship's owners, Salam International Trading Company, appeared reluctant to blame the rebels.

Released crew-members from the Jordanian ship
The ship's crew rejected the rebels' version of events

But he told the BBC Tamil service: "I don't know anyone else to blame except the Tamil Tigers for this incident."

Mr Sulaiman said: "We hear from the parties who are concerned with the ship, the insurance company etc, that... everything that could be taken - like the rice, lights, generators - has been taken from the ship.

"The ship is now bare."

He said attempts to secure safe passage for the insurance company and surveyors to visit the vessel had failed.

Earlier this year, the Sri Lankan government accused the rebels of moving the troubled ship closer to the coast so its contents could be removed.

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In December, the rebels said they boarded the ship, which was carrying rice and was on its way from India to South Africa, after it became beached.

They maintained they were helping the 25 crew, who were led by an Iraqi skipper and included Jordanians and Egyptians.

After they left rebel-held territory, the crew said the rebels had threatened to blow up the anchor cable unless the crew obeyed their orders.

The rebels were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.




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