25 killed in clashes near Lankan air base

November 14th, 2007 - 2:39 am ICT by admin  
Two rebel planes dropped bombs on the base amid heavy gunfire, in what is said to be their first combined air and land attack, reported the BBC.

Tamil Tigers military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan was reported as saying that 21 men and women, who are part of a suicide squad, infiltrated the base at Anuradhapura, which falls well inside government-held territory.

The rebels said they still held parts of the base hours after the attack, but the military said it was under their full control.

Military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said several men on the ground were killed and many others wounded, while two helicopters were damaged.

Four more airmen were killed when their helicopter sent to provide back-up crashed in the area.

The Tamil Tigers are fighting for a Tamil homeland in the north and east.

The attack on the air force base comes as fighting has intensified on Sri Lanka’s northern fronts.

The rebels reportedly have a small fleet of Czech-made two-seater propeller driven aircraft, which are thought to have been smuggled into Sri Lanka in pieces, reassembled and modified to carry bombs.

Earlier this year, the rebels used such a plane to bomb an air base next to the country’s only international airport, near Colombo. (ANI)

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