8 dead as bombings continue in Lanka
Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) jets bombed "Thenaham" the LTTE's conference centre at Karadiyanaaru, 24 km North West of Batticaloa on Saturday, killing eight cadres and wounding four, the pro-LTTE Tamilnet website said.
Two bombs were dropped at Illupadichchenai, also in Batticaloa district.
The air raids had taken place between 11.30 am and 12 noon, the website said.
But the SLAF spokesman, Group Captain Ajantha Silva, would only say that "targets in the Eastern sector" had been hit.
"We cannot give you the exact locations," he told Hindustan Times.
The government defence spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwela, said that the raids had taken place as part of the overall plan to drive the LTTE out of the Mavil Aaru dam area in Trincomalee district, and re-open the sluice gates closed by the LTTE on July 20.
Asked how the bombing of places in far away Batticaloa district would help in this regard, Rambukwela said that it was meant to stop any military aid that might be sent to the LTTE at Mavil Aaru.
In the past four days, the SLAF has been hitting LTTE targets in the Verugal river/Mavil Aaru area in Trincomalee district, and Keppapulevu in Mullaitvu district.
Keppapulevu had an LTTE airfield, intelligence agencies had told the government.
The LTTE has admitted the loss of 13 cadres in air attacks since Thursday.
The Sri Lankan government has justified the daily aerial bombing on the grounds that the LTTE had broken international law, humanitarian norms and the laws of war, by blocking water at Mavil Aaru dam.
About 15,000 families of all ethnic groups, cultivating over 30,000 acres, have been affected by the water blockade, it says.
Strategic significance of Verugal
Verugal is on the border of Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts in Eastern Sri Lanka.
It is a strategic place. If the LTTE controls it, it will be able to dominate the Eastern districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa.
When the LTTE led by V Prabhakaran invaded Batticaloa district to crush the revolt staged by his Eastern commander Karuna in April 2004, the capture of Verugal sealed Karuna's fate.
With Verugal in their hands, Prabhakaran's men over-ran Karuna's bases in the district with ease.
If, on the other hand, the government forces control Verugal, they will be able to prevent the LTTE from strategically linking the Northern and the Eastern districts.
SL govt unfazed by withdrawal of Denmark and Finland
Asked about the withdrawal of Denmark and Finland from the Scandinavian-staffed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), government defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwela said that the withdrawal would adversely affect truce monitoring in the short term.
But he saw no long-term impact.
"The issue would be resolved soon in consultation with the other countries involved in monitoring," he said.
Denmark and Finland announced their withdrawal on Friday following the LTTE's refusal to accept monitors from the European Union (EU) countries.
Denmark and Finland are members of EU. They contributed 11 monitors each to the 57-member SLMM.
The LTTE had said that after the EU banned it at the end of May, EU countries had lost their claim to be "neutrals". Truce monitoring required neutrality, the LTTE argued.
Sweden, the other EU country in the SLMM, is still hanging on, waiting to see if there will be an improvement in the situation.
The LTTE has said that monitors from EU countries should be replaced by September 1.
SL for tough stand
Sri Lanka wants the international community to take an uncompromising stand on the issue of monitors.
Government spokesman Rambukwela said that giving in to the LTTE in this regard would mean bowing to terrorism at a time when the world was united in its resolve to defeat terrorism.