4TH LEAD

Air-Tigers attack Katunayake military airbase

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 March 2007, 20:06 GMT]
Two attack air-crafts belonging to Liberation Tigers carried out bombing raids at the Sri Lanka Air Force airbase at Katunayake at 12:45 a.m. early morning Monday and returned safely to Vanni, military spokesperson of the LTTE, Irasaiah Ilanthiraiyan told TamilNet. The targets for the air attack were the SLAF's Kfir and MiG-27 hangars at the military base located adjoining the Katunayake International Airport (KIA), Ilanthiraiyan said. Meanwhile, military officials in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo said 3 Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) personnel were killed and 15 wounded in the attack.

The injured have been rushed to Negombo hospital from the military airbase, medical sources said.

Katunayake International Airport (KIA) did not suffer any damages, according to military sources.

Chandana de Silva, Communication's Director for 'Srilankan,' Sri Lanka's flagship passenger air-liner, said that the International Airport is shut and all 'Srilankan' flights have been diverted to an air-port in a South Indian state.

Immediate areas surrounding the air-port and the adjoining SLAF airbase have been cordoned off, according to local residents.

Military Spokesperson of the Tigers, Mr. Irasaiah Ilanthirayan (Marshall)
Following the first major aerial attack by the Tigers, Mr. Ilanthiraiyan further said: "The attack is not only pre-emptive but also to safeguard our people from indiscriminate bombing by the SLAF. Other Sri Lanka military installations will also be targets of our future attacks."

"Two aircrafts of Tamileealm Air Force (TAF) with air to surface capability participated in the sortie," LTTE spokesman said.

Unconfirmed reports from Colombo said Air-port taxi drivers have seen at least two parachutes above the airbase.

The attack occurs amid speculations of an imminent offensive of Sri Lankan military into the northern theatre.

In an earlier predawn attack on the Katunayake air base, about 24 km north of Colombo, on 24 July 2001, LTTE cadres infiltrated the air base and destroyed thirteen air crafts including two Kfir jet fighters, one MI-24 Helicopter gun ship and one MIG-27- jet fighter.

No civilians were injured or killed in the 2001 attack.

Military offensives by Sri Lankan armed forces in the NorthEast, since the outbreak of violence in August 2006, have been dominated by air-attacks by SLAF. Attack air-crafts have been inflicting heavy civilian casualties and damages to civilian property.


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