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Feb 21, 2009 at 04:01am IST

2 LTTE planes bomb Colombo, both shot down

Colombo: At least two LTTE planes entered Colombo's airspace and dropped bombs near Sri Lankan army headquarters on Friday night. At least 36 people are reportedly injured.

“It was a 30-kg bomb. One plane has been shot down. They may have been aiming for something else. However, the Army was not off guard," Military Spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara told CNN-IBN.

One of two aircraft bombed a government tax building and set it on fire, the military said. The second plane, which had gone missing from radar while jets were pursuing the other northward, was also shot down.

Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara of the Sri Lankan Air Force said, “The situation is under control now. There was only one aircraft on the radar. There have been some casualties.”

The LTTE aircraft was spotted over the skies in northwestern Mannar forcing the authorities in Colombo to activate air defence system and shut down power supply in the national capital. However, power has now been restored in the city.

According to PTI sources, the radar in Mannar detected the LTTE aircraft following which the air defence system in Colombo was activated. Anti-aircraft guns were also heard firing in the air in Colombo.

Experts say this bombing could be a desperate attempt by the LTTE to prove their presence in Sri Lanka.

However, it amounts to a huge embarrassment for Sri Lankan government, which had claimed to have destroyed LTTE's hidden runways and rendered its small air wing powerless.

Past tense

On November 6 last year, the Sri Lankan Air Force and the army went on an alert following reports of an LTTE aircraft hovering around northern Vavuniya.

An LTTE mini aircraft had dropped two low-intensity bombs at a power station in the Sri Lankan capital immediately after attacking an army camp in Mannar late last October.

On the same night, prior to the Colombo air attack, an LTTE light aircraft dropped three bombs targeting the Thallady Army camp in North-western Mannar causing minor injuries to three army soldiers, according to the military.

The Tigers prior to that carried out an air and ground attack on a military camp in the northern town of Vavuniya in September, killing 11 Sri Lankan soldiers.

The LTTE is believed to have at least three Czech-built Zlin ZO 143's light aircrafts which were likely acquired between April and July, 2006.

The LTTE air force came into prominence when it struck the Sri Lankan military air base inside Colombo's international airport in March, 2007.

(With agency inputs)

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