Sri Lankan air force bomb LTTE gathering point

November 8th, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Nov 8 (IANS) Sri Lankan gunship helicopters, in a night raid, bombed a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) “gathering point” in Palaitivu islet on the country’s western coast as government troops continued their multi-pronged advance towards the Tamil Tiger strongholds, defence officials said here Saturday.According to air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, Russian-built MI-24 gunship helicopters were deployed at around 9.45 p.m. Friday to carry out “intense air assaults on an LTTE gathering point in the Palaitivu islet, 12 nautical miles southwest off Pooneryn”.

Pooneryn is known to be one of the major LTTE naval points on the western coastal belt. From here the rebels have used their long-range artillery and mortar guns to fire at military targets in the past.

“We suspect that the LTTE was probably planning to launch an attack on naval installations in the coastal area and reinforcing their cadres to this point,” Nanayakkara told IANS.

“After the raid, the pilots saw that some of the targets in the islet were ablaze, and we believe that the enemy have suffered heavy damages,” he said.

The air assault was undertaken based on intelligence provided by the navy, he added.

There was no immediate reaction from the LTTE in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan defence ministry in a report Saturday claimed that the troops advancing in the north “have liberated vast tracts along the western coast from the LTTE and are now within striking distance of Pooneryn, Sempankundu and Nallur LTTE fortifications.”

“Troops are forcing the LTTE to flee in total disarray as the military surge continues with strong determination to liberate the strategically important 90 km coastal stretch,” the defence ministry said.

A pro-Tamil Tiger website Friday claimed that the “artillery shelling on uncleared areas in the northwestern part of the Wanni, like Pooneryn, have resulted in 12,000 civilians being moved to safer places deep inside LTTE-held territory”.

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