Two propeller driver single engine aircraft of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bombarded the Myladdi army camp, 3 km from the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) base at Palaly in the northern district of Jaffna, in the wee hours of Tuesday.
This is the second instance of aerial bombardment by the LTTE. The earlier raid, on the Katunayake airbase near Colombo, had take place less than a month ago, on March 26.
According to the LTTE's military spokesman, Rasaiah Ilanthirayan, a massive arms dump and a major engineering facility were damaged in the raid which took place at 1.20 am.
Seven engineers were killed and 10 were wounded in the aerial bombardment, Ilanthirayan said. Other reliable sources in Colombo said that a Brigadier was among the seriously wounded.
"Explosions were heard by our pilots, as they circled the area two or three times before turning back," the LTTE spokesman told Hindustan Times over the phone from Kilinochchi.
"Due to the shut down of power in the area, the aircraft had to turn back. They reached the base safely," he said.
Ilanthirayan contended that Myladdi was very much part of the Palaly High Security Zone (HSZ), and that the attack was tantamount to striking the airbase itself.
No damage says Govt
But the Sri Lankan government said that the LTTE's attempt to attack the Palaly airbase was "foiled".
The government's National Security website maintained that the raiders had missed the airbase when challenged by anti-aircraft fire, and that all that they could do was to discharge two bombs on the Myliddy beach on their way back.
Any damage that was inflicted on the Myladdy army camp was minimal, and that this was due to artillery fire from Pooneryn, and not aerial bombardment.
Since the Palaly airbase cum civilian airport was not hit, flights would take off and land as usual on Tuesday, a military spokesman told Hindustan Times.
But the LTTE spokesman denied the Sri Lankan government's contention that the damage to the Myladdi base was minimal and that it was not due to aerial bombardment.
"There was no artillery firing there today," Ilanthirayan said.
A defence expert said that the LTTE aircraft had come from the East via Point Pedro, apparently flying over the Eastern Mullaitivu and Vadamarachchi coastlines to avoid detection by land-based radars and watchers in the heavily guarded Jaffna district.
Five civilians killed in blast
Five bus passengers were killed when their vehicle was blasted by a claymore mine near Menik Farm, between Mannar and Vavuniya in North West Sri Lanka on Monday night, the Ministry of Defence said.