Colombo,’ Sri Lanka — Tamil guerrillas attacked Sri Lanka’s main naval base at Karainagar, killing three sailors and injuring eight others, official sources said today. The navy said 30 guerrillas died and witnesses said 25 civilians were killed in crossfire.
The guerrillas, fighting for a separate state for the minority Tamils in the island republic, pounded the naval base Friday with rocket propelled grenades and mortar shells in a two hour long battle. Helicopter gunships and heavy artillery fire were used during the night to repulse the attack, the sources added.
According to witnesses from Karainagar, at least 23 civilians living near the base were killed in the crossfire. There was no official comment on civilian casualties. A navy spokesman in Colombo also said 30 guerrillas were killed in the attack but gave no details. The Karainagar naval base is responsible for patrolling the Palk Straits, the thin strip of Indian Ocean that separates India from Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon.
The Sri Lanka government charges that Tamil guerrillas, who have bases and training camps in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, cross this strait to launch offensives against security forces, police and government establishments. India denies the charges.
The soldiers wounded in the Karainagar naval base attack were flown to Colombo for medical attention. Additional naval reinforcements were pushed in to Karainagar.
It was the second assault on the Karainagar naval base by terrorists. Last December, guerrillas fought a 5hour gun battle with many deaths.
Article extracted from this publication >> May 10, 1985