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Lankan air force bombs Tamil rebel naval bases

The attack was the third in as many days after weekend peace talks between the LTTE and the Lankan Govt broke down in Geneva.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2006 14:38 IST

Sri Lanka's air forces bombed three Tamil rebel naval bases on Friday, a military spokesman said, further deepening a crisis that risks plunging the island nation back into all-out war.

The bombers targeted two Sea Tiger bases in northwestern Mannar and one in eastern Batticaloa, spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Details of casualties or damages from the raids were not immediately known.

The Friday's attack was the third in as many days after weekend peace talks between the separatist rebels and the government broke down in Geneva, Switzerland.

Air force jets bombed the Tamil rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi on Thursday, killing five Tamils, a rebel official and European truce monitors had said.

A 2002 ceasefire accord that halted 19 years of fighting has all but disintegrated following violence that has killed at least 2,000 combatants and civilians this year.

Samarasinghe said earlier that the rebels were planning an offensive in the country's east.

Samarasinghe said government intelligence indicated movement of fighters and weapons in the area by the Tamil Tiger rebels, but he declined to give details of the intelligence.

"Our intelligence reports tell us that the LTTE is planning an offensive in the east and we are prepared for that," Samarasinghe said.

He said 523 Tamil civilians have fled from areas under rebel control due to the outbreak of fighting in the east during the past three days.

Unlike northern Sri Lanka, where the rebels control vast areas, in the east they have been weakened by a 2004 split in the rebel movement.

Samarasinghe said a rebel was killed in the east late on Thursday when the anti-terrorist Special Task Force responded to a rebel attack.

There was no independent confirmation of the rebels' alleged plans for an offensive and Tamil Tiger officials were not immediately available for comment on the offensive or the air raids.

Tamil Tigers began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka, citing discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.

More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the ceasefire.

First Published: Nov 03, 2006 14:24 IST