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Lankan Air Force hits Tigers' base

Lankan war planes bomb a suspected 'Black Tiger', a day after a suspected guerrilla blew up a government minister.

world Updated: Apr 07, 2008 13:06 IST

Sri Lankan war planes bombed a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber base on Monday, a day after a suspected guerrilla blew up a government minister, the defence ministry said.

Air force jets attacked a "Black Tiger," or suicide bomber, base in the Mankulam area in the rebel-held north of the island, the ministry said, adding that pilots had hit the targets accurately.

There was no immediate comment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who control a large part of the north and are fighting for an independent Tamil state.

The air strikes were carried out after the government accused the Tigers of assassinating Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle as he opened a marathon race near Colombo on Sunday.

The attack killed 13 other people and wounded 100. Fernandopulle, who had taken part in failed peace talks with the rebels, is the second government minister to be killed this year.

The defence ministry said helicopter gunships were also deployed to hit guerrilla bunkers in the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

It also said 22 more rebels had been killed in fresh fighting over the weekend, raising to 2,653 the number of rebels said to have been killed by security forces this year.

The number of security personnel killed during the same period is 155, according to the ministry. No independent confirmation was available, as journalists are barred from visiting frontline area or crossing into rebel-held territory.

Sri Lanka pulled out of a six-year-old Norwegian-arranged truce with the Tigers in January and since then fighting has escalated.