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Lanka jets bomb, destroy rebel base

Colombo, February 14, 2008

Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed and destroyed a Tamil Tiger camp in the island's rebel-held far north on Thursday, the military said, adding troops killed at least 50 insurgents in fresh fighting a day earlier.

However there no immediate details of any casualties from Thursday's air raid on what the military called 'Radha Base' in the village of Teravikulam, in the northeastern district of Mullaittivu.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were not immediately available for comment on the latest burst of civil war violence, and there were no independent accounts of what had happened.

"We would term it as a military base. They use it as a lodging base for their fighting cadres," said Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Andrew Wijesuriya.

"Pilots have confirmed the targets they have taken, the buildings, were completely destroyed." Fighting between the military and the Tigers has intensified since the government formally scrapped a six-year-old ceasefire pact last month. The government says the rebels had used the truce to re-arm and has vowed to crush them.

Sri Lankan forces are trying to drive the rebels from their northern stronghold and bring an end to a 25-year civil war, but analysts say neither side is winning and predict the fighting will grind on.

The violence has prompted some businesses to put investment plans on hold, weighed on the stock market and last year hit tourist arrivals - a key foreign exchange earner.

On Wednesday, troops killed 50 rebel fighters in a series of clashes in the northern districts of Vavuniya and Polonnaruwa and the northwestern district of Mannar, the military said.

The military had earlier said a rebel mine blast in Vavuniya on Wednesday killed two soldiers and wounded six, while six more soldiers were wounded in fighting elsewhere.

"The pressure we are applying will be continued," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. "Our operations against them will continue to impose maximum casualties to the LTTE and regain LTTE-held areas."

Buoyed by battlefield victories in the east, where it has captured swathes of rebel-held terrain, the government is now seeking to overrun the separatist Tigers' northern stronghold.

But the Tigers continue to mount deadly suicide attacks and roadside bombings, which are increasingly scattered with some in the capital Colombo. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was deeply concerned about the growing number of civilian casualties among more than 70,000 people estimated killed since 1983.-Reuters




Tags: Sri Lanka | Bomb | rebels | jets |

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