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Tigers bomb Lankan Air Force base, 5 killed
October 22, 2007 11:37 IST
Over five Sri Lanka [Images]n Air Force personnel were killed and two MI-24 helicopters damaged in a pre-dawn attack by Tamil Tiger rebels on an air base at the North-Central Anuradhapura district in Sri Lanka, the military said.
The police have declared a local curfew in Anuradhapura and adjoining Mihintale towns to assist the troops engaged in post-dawn clearing operation.
''First a group of LTTE cadres infiltrated the Anuradhapura SLAF Base and launched the initial attack around 3.20 am. A few minutes later, at least two LTTE light aircrafts carried out an air attack on the base, destroying two MI-24 helicopters,'' military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
''The LTTE aircraft is believed to have come from the northern Vavuniya direction. It dropped at least two bombs on the Air Force base before escaping from the scene,'' he said.
Brigadier Nanayakkara added that the armed forces and the police are conducting a massive joint operation to bring the situation under control.
Meanwhile, LTTE military spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan has confirmed the attack. ''This is the first time the Tigers have combined both air and ground attack in a raid,'' the rebel spokesman told the pro-LTTE website Tamilnet.com.
Another pro-LTTE Tamil language website, puthinam.com, reported that at least six Sri Lankan Air Force ground attack supersonic jets have carried out air raids in the rebel-held Wanni region around 5.30 am.
Anuradhapura is an ancient sacred Buddhist city which attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists throughout the year.
This is the fifth time that the LTTE light wing aircraft have carried out air attacks this year. The last attack was carried out on April and targeted oil and gas supply stations.
Subsequent to the LTTE's April air strike, the government said it has acquired anti-aircraft systems and guns and vowed to destroy the LTTE air force completely.