Magnetic Mines -Sri Lanka police investigate Tigers' limpet style sea mines (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lankan police Sunday were investigating a new type of improvised sea mine developed by Tamil Tiger rebels to target naval craft, police chief Chandra Fernando said Sunday.


Police have questioned four of five men arrested Saturday while laying the mines, which are similar to limpet mines.

They stick magnetically to a ship's hull and can be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or remotely, Fernando said.

"These are improvised sea mines weighing about 10 to 15 kilograms (33 pounds)," Fernando said, adding that
the mines were being transported in a freezer truck used for moving fish.

One of the five men arrested Saturday committed suicide by swallowing cyanide.
A second man who also took cyanide is in hospital, officials said.

Two mines exploded prematurely without causing any harm, Fernando said, adding that the men who were arrested may have had eight of the devices with them.

Police recovered two mines floating off the coast of Wennapuwa, 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of the capital.

Navy spokesman P.D.K. Dassanayake said it was the first time they had come across the use of magnetic mines by the Tigers who have recently stepped up their use of "Claymore" mines to target military and civilian vehicles.

"We have not come across this type of IED (Improvised explosive device) before," Dassanayake said.
The government has accused the Tigers of using two Claymore mines to attack an overcrowded bus killing 64 passengers on Thursday.

It was the worst attack against civilians since a train bombing killed 70 people here 10 years ago.
Unlike a regular landmine which is usually buried, a Claymore is mounted above ground.

It fires hundreds of small steel balls and some models can cause casualties over a 100 metre (110 yards) range.

There are no reliable estimates for the number of mines in Sri Lanka, but figures vary from a million to 2.5 million mostly scattered over the northern and eastern regions.

Sri Lanka's international backers have supported de-mining efforts, mainly aimed at unearthing anti-personnel mines laid by government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

At least 815 people have been killed in the latest upsurge in violence since December and most of them were killed by mines.

The spike in violence has seriously strained a truce that has been in place since February 2002.

Von: 19.6.2006

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