LTTE attacks air force HQ in Colombo

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by A.V., Feb 21, 2009.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    Two suspected LTTE aircraft hit air force headquarters and revenue building in Colombo on Friday night killing 2 and injuring over 40 people. One plane was shot down near the city international airport and the pilot was reported killed.

    One bomb fell close to Army headquarters. Exact casualty figures are still awaited.

    Sri Lankan airforce spokesperson Captain Ajanta Silva told NDTV that one aircraft entered Colombo and attempted to hit various targets. "Sri Lankan airforce is in possession of plane wreckage and the pilot's body," he said.

    Power cuts have been reported across Colombo.

    PTI adds: A suspected LTTE aircraft was on Friday night spotted over the skies in northwestern Mannar forcing the authorities in Colombo to activate air defences system and shut down power supply in the national capital.

    According to sources, the radar in Mannar detected the suspected LTTE aircraft a short while ago following which the air defence system in Colombo was activated.

    Anti-aircraft guns were heard firing in Colombo.

    "The air defence system in Colombo has been activated following the incident," Air Force spokesman Janaka Nanayakkara said.

    Power was cut off and searchlights pointed to the sky to detect any suspected LTTE aircraft, he said.

    NDTV.com: LTTE attacks air force HQ in Colombo, 2 killed 40 injured
     
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  3. A.V.

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    COLOMBO: Tamil Tiger rebels carried out a possible suicide attack and bombed Sri Lanka's main tax office in the capital Colombo on Friday night,
    military officials said.

    At least two people were killed and 44 injured, according to a doctor at the main hospital where the wounded were taken, after one of the aircraft hit the building and detonated a bomb.

    Sri Lanka's air force said anti aircraft guns shot down one of the light aircraft as it was trying to get away after flying over the capital, while the wreckage of the second was found inside the Inland Revenue building.

    The country's only international airport was shut down briefly and flights diverted to neighbouring India, officials said, adding that there would be delays of up to one-and-a-half hours.

    Air Force spokesman Janaka Nanayakkara said gunners had brought down one of the light aircraft near the international airport where the military maintains its main air bases.

    "As one of the Tiger planes was fleeing, it was shot down near Katunayake," Nanayakkara said, adding that the body of a Tiger pilot had been recovered by troops.

    Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said the Tigers had bombed the main tax office, which caught fire. Several floors of the building were gutted. The building is located near the air force headquarters and close to a luxury hotel.

    However, there were no reports of foreign nationals among the casualties.

    Residents in Colombo said they heard blasts shortly after the electricity supply was cut off on Friday night, plunging the capital and its half-a-million inhabitants into darkness.

    Anti-aircraft batteries began firing into the night sky from several locations across the city.

    Military officials said they had tracked two aircraft of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), operating out of a narrow strip of land still under their control in the north-east of the island.

    The military has captured six out of the seven air strips known to be under LTTE control, but security forces have not taken any of the rebel aircraft used for attacks against military and civilian targets over the past two years.

    The last Tiger air strike in the capital was in October last year when they bombed a power station, but did not cause any casualties.

    However, the last major air strike was in September when they hit a military base in the north of the island causing considerable damage and killing a dozen security personnel.

    Two weeks earlier, the rebels had carried out an attack on the northeastern port town of Trincomalee, targeting the Sri Lankan navy. At least four people were killed and another 10 wounded.

    In October 2007, the Tigers launched a coordinated land and air attack against a key government air base and damaged a large fleet of aircraft, including spy planes.

    The Tigers were believed to operate five Czech-built Zlin-143 aircraft smuggled into the island in pieces and re-assembled.

    The latest air strike came as government forces claimed they had completely destroyed the conventional fighting capability of the Tigers.

    The military has claimed the upper hand in the latest ground battles, as the two sides trade claims over mistreatment of non-combatants in the drawn-out civil war.

    Tens of thousands of people have died since the Tigers launched a campaign in 1972 to carve out a homeland for minority Tamils in the majority Sinhalese island's north and east.
     
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    Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas on Saturday said an air raid they carried out over the capital Colombo was a Kamikaze-style suicide attack.

    The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said two men from their elite "Black Air Tiger" suicide squad piloted the two light aircraft that carried out the attack on Friday night.

    The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com published a photograph of the two suicide pilots together with Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran said to have been taken shortly before they set off on the suicide mission.

    Tamilnet said the targets were air force facilities in the heart of the capital as well as the main airbase adjoining the country's only international airport located about 35 kilometres (21 miles) north of Colombo.

    One of the Tiger aircraft was shot down just within the perimeter of the airport complex while the other crashed into a 16-storey tax office located close to the air force headquarters in Colombo.

    Tamilnet said the attacks were "successful," but military officials said the guerrillas had clearly missed the intended targets because of intense anti-aircraft fire from ground forces.

    The Tigers said the attacks were carried out by a self-styled Colonel Roopan and Lieutenant Colonel Siriththiran. Both men were identified by one name each.

    "Both the Tamileelam Air Force pilots have earlier been decorated with Blue Tiger award for having carried out successful air raids on enemy targets," the Tamilnet said quoting a statement from the Tigers.

    At least two people on the ground were killed and 58 wounded, according to the main hospital in Colombo.

    The Sri Lankan army said the Tiger aircraft that was shot down near the airport had been packed with explosives, but was shot down before it could cause any damage.

    "The aircraft that flew to Katunayake (airport) area with the express view of causing a more extensive damage, has had a large quantity of explosives and powerful bombs inside it," the army said in a statement.

    The aircraft, believed to be a Czech-built Zlin-143, crashed and the pilot's body was found intact.

    "The dead Tiger pilot was carrying two cyanide capsules and a powerful bomb with his seat," the army said.
     

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