Tue, Mar 27, 2007
Attack Closes Colombo Int'l Airport For Several Hours
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers have escalated their rebellion against
the government with a successful air strike at a government
military base north of the capital of Columbo. The attack happened
just after midnight local time Monday morning.
The rebels say two planes were used, the government says only
one, but both sides agree the rebels apparently succeeded in flying
undetected for about 125 miles to attack the base, then returned
safely to rebel-held territory.
"It is a measure to protect Tamil civilians from the genocidal
aerial bombardments by Sri Lankan armed forces," rebel military
spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said of the attack. "More attacks of
the same nature will follow."
Tiger rebels last attacked the airport and base in 2001, killing
18 and wiping out half of the national airline fleet. The BBC
reports Monday's attack killed three military personnel and injured
16 others. The base shares a runway with a civilian airport,
Colombo Bandaranaika International.
No civilians were reported injured in the attack, or in the
panic following gunfire near the airport's main entrance. The
airport reopened after a brief closure, but Cathay Pacific has
suspended its flights there indefinitely.
The Tigers said goverment planes retaliated later in the day
Monday -- carrying out four raids, and hitting civilian areas on
the north side of the island, but causing no casualties.
The Tamil Tigers are fighting to establish an independent
homeland on the north and east of what is now Sri Lanka. The rebels
have been fighting with the government for about 20 years,
displacing a million residents and killing about 65,000.
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