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Lankan troops discover LTTE aircraft research site
T V Sriram in Colombo | February 19, 2009 15:34 IST
After uncovering attempts of Tamil Tigers to build crude submarines, Sri Lankan forces on Thursday said they had unearthed a possible rebel aircraft research wing that apparently studied ways to either repair planes or construct new ones.
The Sri Lankan security forces engaged in search operations in Waddaikachchi area of Mullaittivu, found several parts of a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam aircraft left burnt by the rebels while fleeing from the area on Wednesday, the Lankan defence ministry said.
According to military sources, the skeletal parts and several partly burnt pieces of a fuselage and a rotor blade of an aircraft were found in a ramshackled centre in the region.
"LTTE [Images] activists have been experimenting clandestinely", the ministry quoted military sources as saying, adding that aircraft manuals, engineering sketches and brochures of model light aircraft were among the items found.
"Lathe machines, aluminium sheets, motor engine parts, nuts and bolts and a stock of other similar tools and accessories were also uncovered by the troops", military sources said.
On November 6 last year, the Sri Lankan Air Force and the army went on alert following reports of an LTTE aircraft hovering around northern Vavuniya, even as the fears proved unfounded.
"The aircraft disappeared from the radars after it reached some two kilometres close to Vavuniya. Since then there were no clues about the aircraft though the military was on high alert for few more hours," the Daily Mirror newspaper had reported.
In what was described as a startling discovery, the troops had recovered a submarine built by the LTTE in January this year.
An LTTE mini aircraft had dropped two low-intensity bombs at a power station in Colombo immediately after attacking an army camp in Mannar late last October.
The government had described the attack on the Kelanitissa power station in Colombo as an abortive mission and said only minor damages were caused to the station.
On the same night, prior to the Colombo air attack, an LTTE light aircraft dropped three bombs targeting the Thallady army camp in the north-western Mannar causing minor injuries to three army soldiers, according to the military.
The Tigers prior to that carried out an air and ground attack on a military camp in the northern town of Vavuniya in September, killing 11 Sri Lankan soldiers.
The LTTE is believed to have at least three Czech-built Zlin ZO 143's light aircrafts which were likely acquired between April and July, 2006.
The LTTE air force came into prominence when it struck the Sri Lankan military air base inside Colombo's international airport in March, 2007.
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