LTTE aircraft attack Colombo; two killed B. Muralidhar Reddy

21 02 2009

Source: The Hindu

Area near Army, Air Force hq. bombed

COLOMBO: At least two persons were believed dead and 40 others injured as two light wing aircraft of the LTTE dropped a bomb in the heart of the national capital on Friday night.

Power was switched off in the city after the radar system detected two aircraft heading towards the capital around 9 p.m. Sounds of explosions and continuous firing could be heard.

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) confirmed that the two LTTE aircraft were seen above Colombo around 9.15 p.m. After the radar detected the intrusion, the air defence system was activated and the aircraft “aborted their mission.”

The SLAF claimed that one LTTE aircraft was destroyed and the body of its pilot found near the Katunayake airbase. However, there was no independent confirmation.

The military conceded that the Inland Revenue Department, located near the Army and SLAF headquarters, was partly damaged in the air raid. It said at least 42 people were injured.

The raids surprised political and diplomatic circles here, considering that the military had zeroed in on the LTTE in its heartland and the territorial jurisdiction of the Tigers was now confined to less than 100 sq. km.

One view is that it is a last-ditch attempt by the LTTE to salvage its reputation. “It is a desperate attempt by the Tigers to divert attention of the globe from the humiliating defeats they have suffered in the last few months. We were ready for such an eventuality,” a senior government official told The Hindu.

A report on the pro-LTTE TamilNet claimed that at least two bombs were dropped by Tiger aircraft in Slave Island area where the SLAF headquarters was situated.

It maintained that 38 people, including SLAF men, were rushed to hospital. “Several of the wounded have sustained serious injuries. The building of the Inland Revenue Department, located in front of the SLAF HQ, was on fire. Tension prevails in the city, which is still in dark, an hour after the initial attack. Thousands of tracer bullets were fired from all corners of the city, including the Katunaykae International Airport,” the web site said.

The LTTE last launched an aerial attack on Colombo on October 29, 2008.