LTTE planes bomb military positions in Sri Lanka’s northeast(Lead)

April 27th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 27 (IANS) Two light aircraft of the Tamil Tigers carried out a surprise air raid early Sunday on Sri Lankan military positions in the northeast but the military said no damage was caused to men and material. Military spokesman Brigadier Udayan Nanayakkara said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) aircraft dropped three bombs at 1.43 a.m. at the forward defence line (FDL) at Weli-Oya, 280 km northeast of Colombo.

“No injuries or damage were caused due to the LTTE air raid,” Nanayakkara told IANS. “The LTTE planes have returned safely to their hideouts in the Wanni after dropping three bombs.”

The LTTE raid came within 24 hours of the Sri Lankan Air Force claim that its supersonic jets bombed “identified LTTE artillery gun positions located north of Weli-Oya Saturday evening” following fierce ground battles.

Commenting on the ground battle casualties, Nanayakkara said that at least 22 LTTE cadres and seven government soldiers were killed and one soldier was missing after the “troops successfully thwarted a two-pronged LTTE offensive to breach the military defences at Weli-Oya Saturday”.

The defence ministry said in a statement Sunday that the Sri Lankan Air Force’s “air defence network radars detected two light aircraft of the LTTE which were airborne and heading towards Weli-Oya during the wee hours (Sunday).

“In accordance with standard operating procedures, SLAF interceptor aircraft were made airborne in the direction of the intruding enemy craft. However, enroute to the area it was observed that the LTTE aircraft were fleeing and heading back,” it said.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE.

The LTTE is known to possess an unspecified number of Czech-built Zlin Z-143 lightwing aircraft. These had carried out four air raids against Sri Lankan military and economic targets until October last year.

The LTTE’s air capabilities first came to limelight March 25 last year when their planes carried out a pre-dawn attack on the Katunayake air force base, adjoining the country’s only international airport near Colombo.

The LTTE’s air strike Sunday was the fifth.

In October, the government said it had acquired anti-aircraft systems and guns and vowed to destroy the LTTE’s air capabilities.

Sri Lankan troops are now locked in heavy fighting with the LTTE in the country’s north, where at least 150 combatants were killed and over 500 wounded in bloody battles Wednesday.

The troops said they had captured the first line of defence of the rebels after Wednesday’s fierce fighting in Jaffna peninsula, a claim refuted by the LTTE.

Sri Lanka announced Friday that its troops had captured the Catholic Madhu church in Mannar in northwest from the Tamil Tigers, claiming that the LTTE cadres retreated from the shrine due to military pressure.

On Friday evening, a powerful bomb ripped through a packed passenger bus at Piliyantala on the outskirts of Colombo, killing 26 civilians including a child, a Buddhist priest and women and injuring 60 others.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Friday’s bus bomb blast was yet another “indiscriminate attack against civilians by the LTTE in the face of heavy setbacks on the battlefield”

He also called on the public “to be more vigilant and to help troops to foil the destructive plans of the terrorists”.

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