Tamil rebels attack east Sri Lankan village, says government

February 22nd, 2009 - 12:19 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 21 (DPA) Tamil rebels stormed a village in eastern Sri Lanka Saturday, killing at least eight civilians and injuring four, a day after rebels attempted an aerial suicide mission on the capital.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the rebels attacked the remote village of Inginiyagala, 280 km east of the capital, Saturday evening.

He said that villagers had been shot and hacked to death by the Tamil separatists. The dead are thought to include some children.

The victims belonged to Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhala community, and were believed to be subsistence farmers.

The eastern province was recaptured by government troops from the rebels in July 2007, but sporadic fighting has taken place since.

The attack came as government investigators salvaged parts of two light aircraft commandeered by Tamil rebels and shot down by the Sri Lankan Air Force Friday.

Initial examinations revealed that both aircraft were packed with more than 200 kg of explosives each and were on an apparent suicide mission.

Nanayakkara said the attacks were in contrast to previous incidents where the rebels had used light aircraft to drop bombs on the capital.

Initial reports of the incident on late Friday had suggested that the rebels had used the planes to drop bombs close to the air force headquarters in the capital.

But the investigation has revealed that one of the aircraft crashed into a government building close to the air force headquarters, and the second one was shot down around 30 km north of the capital.

Two people died and at least 53 were wounded in the air attacks.

The two aircraft, which had taken off from a Tamil rebel-held area in northern Sri Lanka, flew to the northwestern side of the country and travelled along the western coast to reach the capital, a military spokesman said.

The attacks came as the government said that Tamil rebels had been cornered into a 100-square-km area in the northeast.

In March 2007, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked Sri Lankan Army positions and an air base close to the international airport in Colombo, killing three soldiers and wounding 17.

A month later, the LTTE carried out air attacks on an army base in the north and two oil depots in the capital.

During recent operations, however, the military has captured at least five air strips used by rebels in the north.

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