Speculation in defence circles is that armaments, including sizeable stocks of artillery shells and mortar rounds, ordered by North Koreans from a major arms supplier, were to be transferred to the LTTE.
One such shipment is believed to have been thwarted by Sri Lanka about two months ago. The supplier, a major arms producing country had cancelled the shipment immediately after Sri Lanka brought the alleged move to her notice. The supplier has assured Sri Lanka that this would be investigated.
Well informed sources acknowledged the possibility of the LTTE receiving some consignments before the clandestine transactions were brought to the notice of the supplier. The sources said that the recovery of 152 mm and 130 mm artillery shells and 120 mm mortars after last week`s destruction of a large vessel off the southern coast too, emphasized the likelihood of arms smuggling efforts.
The sources said that the LTTE could have easily bought over influential officials to facilitate arms shipments through a circuitous route.
Last year`s arrest of a Retired Indonesian Marine General Erick Wotulo with five other operatives, including Singaporeans, by US agents for planning to ship arms to the LTTE bared an unfathomable link between the LTTE and top military man. If found guilty of conspiracy to export arms and ammunition and of providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, the defendants face various sentences of up to 20 years in prison and half million dollar fines.
The Island learns that the recent seizure of a boat mounted with a 14.5mm single barrel anti-aircraft gun and a multi purpose machine gun had fuelled speculation that the LTTE had secured some armaments, believed to have been manufactured by the country which the North Koreans approached on behalf of the LTTE. The 14.5mm gun is the first such recovery by the navy following a confrontation off Battalangunduwa in the western theatre. The navy recovered the 22 feet long boat mounted with two weapons.