11 soldiers, police killed in attacks by rebels in Sri Lanka

By Xinhua,

Colombo : Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels launched a sudden coordinated attack on military targets in the northern town of Vavuniya Tuesday morning, killing 11 personnel of government troops and injuring 28 others, defense officials said.

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Officials from the Ministry of Defense said the attack made by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) rebels at the security forces headquarters (Vanni) and Air Force Base in Vavuniya “was completely foiled” after heavy fighting.

They said the rebels launched a pre-dawn ground assault coordinated with artillery fire and an air raid with the intention of causing severe damage to the Air Force assets in the Vavuniya airbase.

Officials said the troops crushed the ground assault completely and killed at least 10 LTTE cadres.

They said 10 Army soldiers were killed and 15 others suffered injuries. One police constable was killed and eight other police officers sustained injuries due to the artillery fire. Five Air Force personnel also suffered injuries.

Meanwhile, the Air Force claimed its fighter jets intercepted two LTTE light aircraft fleeing after their mission at Vavuniya Air Force base and shot down one of the aircraft in the Mullaitivuskies.

Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said the fighting lasted about two hours from 3:00 a.m. (2130 GMT Monday) to 5 a.m. (2330 GMT Monday) in the security forces’ stronghold about 250 km northeast of the capital.

Pro-LTTE sources said what came under attack in Vavuniya was the joint headquarters of the security forces in Vanni area partly controlled by the LTTE.

The sources said at least 11 explosions rocked the town and heavy exchange of gunfire was reported till 5:00 a.m.

They said three LTTE’s aircraft engaged in the mission over Vavuniya around 2:30 a.m. (2100 GMT Monday), adding that there was no indication of any aircraft coming down.

The fighting came about two weeks after Sri Lanka’s eastern port town of Trincomalee was raided by two light aircraft of the LTTE on Aug. 26, with at least 10 soldiers being injured.

Government troops and the LTTE were engaged in heavy fighting last week in the north. The LTTE had handed over 30 dead bodies of the security forces to the government.

The government vows to totally crush the rebel organization within one year.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of Sinhalese majority governments, the LTTE has been fighting government troops since the mid-1980s to carve out an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east, which has killed more than 70,000 in the island.