Security tightened along Tamil Nadu coast


New Delhi : Security has been tightened along the Tamil Nadu coast after Tamil Tiger rebels staged a daring air and ground attack on a major Sri Lankan air base before dawn Monday, leaving five airmen and 10 guerrillas dead, an official here said.

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“We are constantly on the alert and have raised this a notch,” the official added.

“It’s not that we fear an attack. They (the Tamil Tigers) would never dare to do so. It’s just that some of them might try to slip in (to Indian territory) to escape reprisals,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels operating in the waters between India and Sri Lanka have also been asked to maintain extra vigil, the official said.

The rebel attack is likely to figure at the conference of top commanders of the Indian armed forces to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Wednesday.

The top brass of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, at their separate conferences beginning here Tuesday, are also likely to discuss the assault.

The attack at 3.20 a.m. surprised a large number of military personnel at the base in Anuradhapura district, which adjoins the troubled north and is located about 200 km north of Colombo.

An official statement quoting military sources said: “A group of LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) terrorists infiltrated into the air base … and launched (the) attack at around 3 a.m.”

As the ground attack was on, an LTTE light aircraft dropped one or two bombs at the base around 4 a.m., the statement said. It gave no details about casualties.

LTTE military spokesman Rasiyha Illanthiriyan said this was the first time the Tigers had carried out a combined air and ground attack.

In a statement, the spokesman said: “A combined unit of 21 Black Tigers attacked the Anuradhapura air base, the largest operations logistic base in Sri Lanka.” Black Tigers are the LTTE’s suicide bombers.

He said logistic facilities and eight aircraft belonging to the Sri Lanka Air Force were destroyed in the attack. These included a helicopter gunship, trainer craft and reconnaissance craft.