More help coming

Two ships full of Marines and heavy equipment steaming toward Sri Lanka were diverted due to reduced need for aid, officials said Tuesday, and instead bolstered the U.S. task force off western Sumatra, the area hardest-hit by last week’s tsunami. But the highly sensitive nature of the U.S. relief mission in southern Asia was highlighted when a spokesman for Sri Lanka’s rebels, the Tamil Tigers – considered a terrorist organization by Washington – said that the troops were being sent as spies to help put down their insurgency.

U.S. officials insisted that the diversion of two ships had nothing to do with the Tamil Tigers’ allegations, and that rerouting the USS Bonhomme Richard and the USS Duluth followed the Sri Lankan government scaling down its request for help.