Sri Lankan Air Force bombs rebel positions

By Xinhua

Colombo : Sri Lanka's Air Force carried out air raids against Tamil Tiger positions in the east while three soldiers were killed in a rebel roadside bomb in the north, defense officials said Tuesday.

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Group Captain Ajantha Silva, the Air Force spokesman said fighter bombers raided Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) positions at Thoppigala in the eastern Batticaloa district.

"Air raids were done around 10 a.m. (0430 GMT) at a selected LTTE position and they were successful," Silva said.

Meanwhile, at 2:40 p.m. local time (0910 GMT) LTTE rebels carried out a roadside bomb attack against the army in the northern district of Vavuniya, killing three soldiers, the military said.

Government troops say they are on the verge of clearing Thoppigala totally from LTTE control.

Thoppigala remains the last LTTE stronghold in Eastern Province after the military victories over the rebels in the key rebel bastions of Sampur and Vakarai.

President Mahinda Rajapakse told legislators of the ruling party Monday evening that the entire Eastern Province would be free of rebels soon.

The government plans to hold local council elections in the province when the military gained full control in the area.

About 5000 Sri Lankans have been killed in the island country's new spate of violence since December 2005, pushing the Norwegian backed peace process to the back burner.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government, the LTTE has been fighting for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's 12.5 percent Tamil minority since the 1970s.