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Home > Cricket > Reuters > Report

Rebel air raid grounds Sri Lanka World Cup squad

May 02, 2007 10:32 IST

Sri Lanka's World Cup cricket team is stuck in London trying to secure flights home after carrier Emirates suspended all flights to the island following a weekend Tamil Tiger air raid near the capital Colombo.

Sri Lanka Cricket officials said they hoped the 15-man squad and management team would be back in Sri Lanka early on Thursday as planned in time for official welcome celebrations after their loss to Australia in the World Cup final.

"The team is currently in London and we are trying to secure seats with an alternative airline," said Samantha Algama, Sri Lanka Cricket's media spokesman.

"The parade and reception at Independence Square will go ahead as planned," Algama added. "We hope to be in a position to confirm arrangements by Tuesday evening."

The separatist Tigers warned on Monday their nascent air wing would launch more aerial attacks after a pre-dawn raid on oil facilities near the capital on Sunday.

The attack triggered air defences that cut power to the capital, leaving hundreds of thousands of cricket fans in the dark and unable to see the end of the match.

Sri Lanka lost the final by 53 runs as Australia notched up a record third consecutive World Cup victory.

International airlines Cathay Pacific and Emirates have both suspended flights in and out of Colombo, while Singapore Airlines has shifted its daily night-time departure to after midday -- the Tigers' recent air raids have been conducted at night to help avoid detection.

Sri Lanka's two-decade civil war has been raging for months after a 2002 ceasefire collapsed, with near daily land and sea battles, ambushes and bombings. Analysts fear a conflict that has killed around 68,000 people since 1983 could rumble on for years.

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