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YESTERDAY: SRI LANKA

LTTE air raid over Colombo

Tiger aircraft bomb Kolonnawa oil installation and Muthurajawela gas facility in midnight attack

The city of Colombo was brought under a total blackout shortly after midnight today as two Tiger rebel aircraft entered the city to attack targets.


The night sky was set aglow when security forces fired shots and flares into the air after reports of a suspicious aircraft. Pic: M.A. Pushpakumara

One of the aircraft had dropped bombs at a fuel dump in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation’s (CPC) oil installations in Kolonnawa. Another bomb was reported to have fallen at an LPG gas facility in Muthurajawela, triggering off a large fire. The Colombo Fire Brigade was called in to douse them.

Reports of the intrusion of the LTTE aircraft came as Sri Lankans watched the World Cup cricket finals in Barbados. Whilst a blackout was in force, troops in security forces installations in the city including Army Headquarters, the Air Force Base at Ratmalana and VVIP residence began firing volleys of flares into the sky. The firing from the SLAF base was intense.

The SLAF base at Katunayake also began firing flares and shooting into the sky fearing it was a second attack on the base in two months. Civilian flights were cautioned about these developments over Colombo’s skies. Air Force spokesman Group Captain Ajantha Silva said that after receiving information about suspicious aircraft, they activated the air defence system in places such as Air Force headquarters, Colombo harbour, the Kolonnawa Petroleum Distribution Centre, and the Sapugaskanda oil refinery.

The situation caused panic as armed policemen joined in firing into the sky. Explosions were heard in different parts of the city, including Ratmalana, Battaramulla and Kollupitiya causing concern among the public. The blackout was restored only after it was confirmed that the guerrilla aircraft had left. Reports from Mannar later confirmed sighting the aircraft in the skies over Mannar.

Neither Colombo nor Ragama hospitals reported any wounded people seeking treatment following the incident. Shortly after the bombings in Colombo, Air Force jets pounded locations in LTTE-controlled Kilinochchi.

An hour later, there was widespread confusion that the guerrilla aircraft had returned. It turned out to be a commercial airliner.
The pilot is reported to have later complained to airport authorities at Katunayake about the firing. However, the aircraft was not hit.

(Please also see Situation Report by Iqbal Athas)

 

 

 

Tamil Tiger air raids send cricket fans fleeing
[29 Apr, 2007 l 0954 hrs IST lAGENCIES ]

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COLOMBO: Tamil Tiger planes struck fuel facilities around Sri Lanka’s capital early on Sunday, briefly plunging Colombo into darkness and sending cricket fans watching the World Cup final fleeing in panic.

As explosions were heard and the night sky lit up with anti-aircraft fire, fans scrambled to leave parks and hotels where giant screens showing Sri Lanka playing Australia in the final in Barbados were switched off.

It was the third time the separatist rebels have used light aircraft to hit military targets.

Confirming the strike by the Tigers on key installations near Colombo, the Sri Lankan defence ministry said only “minor damage” was caused in the attack.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) dropped two bombs at the Muthurajawela gas storage facility of Shell and dropped two more bombs at the main oil storage depot at Kolonnawa here, the ministry said.

“The suspected LTTE aircraft have (dropped) four improvised bombs,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two bombs dropped on the oil facility failed to explode, the ministry said.

A rebel spokesman said two LTTE aircraft carried out the attacks in retaliation for military air raids on their territory.

He said two “squadrons” were dispatched after Sri Lankan Air Force jets had bombed targets in Kilinochchi in the north where the rebels have their headquarters.

The Air Force confirmed a rebel claim that the military war planes had bombed the outskirts of the rebel-held Kilinochchi town, 330 kilometres north of here, hours before the Tigers staged their tit-for-tat attack.

Air Force spokesman Ajantha Silva said they carried out a second air strike against the Tigers after the rebel air strikes here early this morning.

Air attacks interrupt Sri Lankans’ World Cup

  • From correspondents in Colombo
  • April 29, 2007

THE Sri Lankan capital was enveloped in “total panic” early today as Tamil Tiger air attacks forced World Cup cricket fans to flee their parties for safety.

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