Sri Lanka: Air force bombs rebel positions
By KRISHAN FRANCIS,Associated Press Writer AP - Sunday, November 30
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka's air force carried out a series of attacks against Tamil Tiger rebel targets, including a guerrilla training camp, while a separate infantry clash killed four guerrillas, the military said Saturday.
It said jets bombed the training camp in Visvamadu village on Saturday, a day after it hit a heavy gun position in the rebel headquarters of Kilinochchi.
Also Saturday, helicopters bombed a group of rebels who were trying to stop soldiers from reaching Paranthan, a strategic crossroads north of Kilinochchi, it said in a statement.
Pilots claimed success in all the attacks, the military said, without giving casualty details.
Pro-rebel Web site TamilNet reported meanwhile that the target that the military described as a training camp was in fact a refugee camp situated in a government declared "safe zone."
It said three people were killed and 18 others were wounded in the raid.
Air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara denied the report and said the target was some distance north of the safe zone. He said the air force has confirmation that the rebels "suffered heavy casualties."
Meanwhile, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said soldiers captured Otiyamalai village in the northeastern Mullaitivu district Saturday in a move that could make several other rebel bases unstable and prove crucial for the military's march deeper into rebel territory.
Soldiers also killed four guerrillas and beat back a counterattack in Mullaitivu district, he said.
Rebel officials could not be reached for comment. It is difficult to verify battlefield reports because most reporters are barred from the war zone.
The government has vowed to crush the rebels to end their decades-old separatist war. It says its forces are closing in on Kilinochchi, the rebels' de facto capital, while other troops are advancing toward the rebel stronghold of Mullaitivu on the northeastern coast.
The rebels have been forced to give up large swathes of territory in heavy battles over the past several months.
The Tamil Tigers have fought a 25-year civil war to carve out an independent state for the country's ethnic minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization by successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.
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