Tension after dawn raid
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 24 July 2001, 08:47 GMT]
Thirteen air crafts including two Kfir jet fighters, one MI-24 Helicopter gun ship and one MIG-27- jet fighter were destroyed in the predawn attack on the Katunayake air base, about 35 km. north of Colombo, by members of the Liberation Tigers, according to official military sources in Colombo.
Three military trainee planes and five civilian jets were also among the destroyed air crafts.
Military sources in Colombo said several ammunition dumps and oil storage were also destroyed.
They said 12 attackers and 4 Air Force personnel have been killed. Nineteen air force personnel were also wounded.
Residents living close to the air base said large explosions rocked the area and gun battle continued for nearly four hours.
Sri Lankan military authorities have declared an indefinite curfew in several areas in the Negombo district. "The activities of the International airport have been temporarily suspended" a government special communiqué said this morning.
The temporary closure of the international airport has been notified to international airlines, according to the Director of Civil Aviation, Lal Liayanarachchi.
Katunayake, Negombo, Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Seeduwa and Jaela police areas are now under curfew, security sources said.
Meanwhile no one is allowed to enter Colombo harbour Tuesday morning as a precautionary measure, following the attack on Katunayake said sources.
President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge Tuesday morning held an emergency meeting with chiefs of three armed forces and the Inspector General of Police following the attack.
Earlier the Deputy Minister of Defense General Anuruddha Ratwatte inspected the airforce base accompanied by the Defense Ministry Secretary Chandrananda de Silva, President's Secretary K. Balapatepandi, chiefs of three armed forces and the Inspector General of Police