Sri Lanka launches air raid after LTTE’s suicide attack (Roundup)

June 16th, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, June 16 (IANS) Sri Lankan Air Force supersonic fighter jets raided a suspected LTTE base in Wanni barely a couple of hours after a powerful suicide blast killed 12 police personnel in the tightly guarded northern town of Vavuniya Monday, military officials said. “Our fighter jets bombed an LTTE logistic warehouse complex located about two kilometres southeast of Puthukkudiyiruppu at 10.00 a.m. Monday. The pilots have confirmed that the target was accurately hit,” air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara told IANS.

This is the second air raid in two consecutive days targeting suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bases in the rebel heartland of Mullaitivu.

According to Wing Commander Nanayakkara, the MI-24 gunship helicopters have also carried out air raids targeting the LTTE’s forward defence lines at Nagarkovil in the Jaffna peninsula “in support of the ground troops around 12.30 p.m. Monday”.

“The extents of damage caused to the LTTE during these two air raids was not known immediately,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a suspected LTTE suicide bomber riding an explosive-laden motorbike blew himself up, targeting police personnel leaving the office of a senior superintendent of police for routine deployment around 7.10 a.m. Monday in Vavuniya town, 254 km north of Colombo.

“Twelve police officers, including three women police constables, were killed and 23 others were injured in the explosion. Seventeen policemen, two women constables, three schoolchildren and another civilian were among the injured,” the Media Centre for National Security of the defence ministry said in a statement.

Television channels showed visuals of the blast site where the motorbike used in the suicide attack was shattered to pieces. Ambulances evacuated the wounded police personnel and civilians to the Vavuniya hospital.

The latest suicide attack has taken place at a time when government troops have opened many fronts in Vavuniya and in the northwestern Mannar district in their bid to advance into the rebel-held Wanni area amid fierce resistance from the LTTE.

The defence ministry said that at least 30 LTTE cadres and four soldiers were killed and over 45 wounded on both sides during separate gun battles elsewhere in Mannar, Vavuniya, Jaffna and Weli Oya areas Sunday.

On Sunday, the air force claimed to have bombed “a key combat-logistic facility” of the LTTE in the rebel-held Mullaitivu district, completely destroying the unit that was used to convert, maintain and service LTTE combat vehicles.

Without commenting about the government’s claim on the bombing, the rebels said in a statement that two civilians were killed and 11 wounded in the air raid.

Military officials rejected the LTTE claim and said “the target was acquired after constant air surveillances and continuously gathered information”.

There was no immediate reaction from the rebels regarding the fresh air raid.

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