Sri Lankan navy fires at suspicious aircraft

January 21st, 2009 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 21 (IANS) The Sri Lankan Navy has detected and fired at a suspicious aircraft flying at a very high altitude off Mullaitivu area, a military official said here Wednesday.The official told IANS that navy vessels detected the aircraft with its lights on at around 8.25 p.m. Tuesday, flying towards Chalai in Mullaitivu district in the country’s northeast.

“It was missing for about 30 minutes. The naval craft (later) detected a suspicious aircraft, maybe the same one, leaving Chalai area,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.

“The Israeli-built Dvora Fast Attack Crafts this time opened fire at the aircraft using long range guns but it disappeared from the sky,” said the official.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have their Sea Tigers bases and the military installations in Chalai. The rebels also reportedly have an airstrip in Chalai.

According to official sources, the navy has four defence barriers off the coast of Mullaitivu consisting of more than 25 fast attack crafts, offshore patrol vessels and a Special Boat Squadron to cut off the escape routes of LTTE cadres by sea.

Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said the air force had also observed a “bright light in the sky over the general area of Mullaitivu” Tuesday night.

“The air force have observed a very bright light at a very high altitude for short period around 9.00 p.m.,” said Wing Commander Nanayakkara.

The LTTE is believed to be in possession of an unknown number of Czech-built Zlin-Z-143 lightwing aircraft. The low-flying aircraft have carried out dozens of night raids targeting military installations.

Encouraged by the fall of LTTE strongholds one after other in quick successions, the troops have now boxed the rebels into a chunk of forests in Mullaitivu.

With the navy spotting an aircraft flying at a high altitude, questions are being raised if attempts were being made by some outside forces to help the Tamil Tiger leaders to escape from Sri Lanka.

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