Sri Lankan military bombs Tamil Tiger targets, kills rebels


Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 5

Sri Lankan warplanes pounded Tamil Tiger targets in the far north of the island yesterday, and nine rebels and a soldier were killed in a series of battles in the same region, the military said.

The violence in the north, focus of renewed civil war between the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is just the latest in a series of near-daily clashes over recent months.

"The army killed nine LTTE terrorists in four different confrontations in Vavuniya on Friday," said a spokesman at the Defence Ministry's Media Center for National Security. He said one solders was killed.

An air force spokesman said planes had attacked a Sea Tiger base northwest of Puthukkudiyiruppu in rebel-held Mullaitivu.

"After observing some movement in the area we took the target using [Israeli-made] Kfirs and [Russian-made] MiGs," said Group Captain Ajanth De Silva.

"It was a Sea Tiger training camp and the intelligence confirmed the target. We have no details of casualties or damage but the planes hit the target," he said.

The Tigers, who say they are fighting for an independent state for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, were not immediately available for comment on the incident.

There was no independent confirmation of how many people were killed in the fighting. Military analysts say both sides tend to exaggerate enemy losses and play down their own.

The attacks come on the heels of a new military offensive launched this month to drive the rebels from the northwestern district of Mannar.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's navy sank three Tamil Tiger rebel boats off the island's northeastern coast, killing 18 rebels on board and 10 others died in subsequent land battles, the military said on Friday.

Fighting between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who want a separate homeland for minority ethnic Tamils in the north and east, has escalated since the government launched an offensive in the northwest earlier this month.

The latest sea battle took place late on Thursday when Sri Lankan government boats sighted 20 rebel vessels in the seas off Pulmudai, near the rebels' de facto state in the far north.

"The navy destroyed three boats and after listening to communications they confirmed 18 Tigers killed, including a leader," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanaykkara.

"One navy sailor was killed and another injured," he added.

The Military also said they killed ten Tamil Tiger rebels in clashes on Friday in the north western district of Mannar and northern districts of Vavuniya and Jaffna.

Some 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between military and rebels since early last year. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed since the war began in 1983.