PHUKET TOWN: Phuket Marine Police today denied a report in a major daily newspaper that they had recently checked and then released a speedboat that might have been used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to transport supplies from Phuket to an LTTE base on an island nearby. The LTTE have been waging a long and bitter civil war against the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka, a war that has resulted in thousands of deaths. Kao Sod, one of Thailand’s biggest daily newspapers, yesterday quoted a Marine Police source in Phuket as saying that officers went to check on a speedboat at the Rassada Pier on April 9. Aboard the boat, the newspaper said, the officers found three crewmen from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. They also found food supplies, 5,000 liters of fuel, military uniforms, walkie-talkies, and three big boxes containing fliers written in Yavee, a regional dialect spoken in Malaysia. Also printed on the fliers was the LTTE symbol, consisting of crossed rifles, a tiger’s head, a star, and a crescent moon. “I don’t know where the reporter got this story from,” Pol Lt Col Prasopchai Bunluesil, Deputy Superintendent of Phuket Marine Police, told the Gazette. “We never took any such action. We are filing a report to the Special Branch, denying everything in this newspaper report.” Last month, Lloyd’s List, a shipping news publication, was quoted by the Sunday Island, an English-language newspaper in Sri Lanka, as saying that the LTTE had moved to an island “near Phuket” after being driven out of Burma. At the time, Pol Col Misakawan Buara, Superintendent of Phuket Marine Police, told the Gazette, “This sounds like old news to us. A report last year said that the Tigers were shipping gasoline and weapons out of Phuket. That time, a representative from Sri Lanka also came down to search with us. None of it was true.” Phuket Marine Police checked islands off Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Satun, Ranong, and Trang in response to the report, he said. They found nothing. Despite the Marine Police denials, Gen Surayud Chulanont, the chief of Thailand’s armed forces, was reported recently as saying that the Army has known for some time that LTTE separatists have been operating from an island near Phuket.
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