Rameswaram: Nine fishermen from here were missing and more than 200 boats damaged in an alleged attack by Sri Lankan Naval personnel at the International Maritime Boundary Line in Palk Strait RPT in Palk Strait, officials said on Sunday.

Fishermen from the island who had put out to sea in more than 600 boats were fishing near the IMBL when they were allegedly surrounded by Sri Lankan Naval personnel and attacked with stones, forcing them to return to the shores, fisheries officials said quoting the fishermen.

This is the first attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by the neighbouring Republic's navy after External Affairs Minister S M Krishna raised the issue with authorities in Colombo during his four-day visit last week.

Ahead of Krishna's visit, the Joint Working Group on Fisheries between the two countries also discussed the issue with the Indian side stressing that use of force against fishermen, including by civilians, is not justifiable under any circumstances.

Officials said nine fishermen onboard two of the 600 boats did not return to shore. However, it was not known whether they had been taken into custody by Sri Lankan Navy or had strayed somewhere else.

According to fisherman Justin, whose boat was pelted with stones, the Lankan Navalmen attacked them with big stones damaging the windscreen of many boats. They also cut off the fishing nets and took them away.

More than 200 boats suffered damage in 'the heavy shower' of stones, said another fisherman Jagadheesh, who suffered cut injury in his leg.

(Agencies)