The Sri Lankan government on Sunday criticized the Tamil rebels for seizing 25 crew members from a Jordanian ship that drifted into what the guerrilla called waters under their control after the vessel developed engine failure.
The rebels said they boarded the Farha-3, which was carrying 14,000 tons of Indian rice bound for South Africa, after it entered waters under rebel control Saturday.
In a statement, the government said it was "preposterous" for a rebel group banned in numerous countries as a terrorist organization to claim control over the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. The rebels, who say they are fighting to create a separate state for the country's 3.1 million ethnic Tamil minority, are banned in the United States, EU and neighboring India.
A rebel official said all the 25 members crew from Jordan and Egypt were safe and resting.