Sri Lankan warplanes bomb rebel positions, troops escape injury in bomb blast
Tue September 19, 2006 04:43 EDT .
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's air force pounded Tamil Tiger rebel positions on Tuesday, as ground troops escaped injury in a bomb blast blamed on the separatists in the volatile east, officials said.
The airstrikes were carried out against ``identified targets'' in rebel-held areas in the eastern Batticaloa district, said an officer at the government's Media Center for National Security.
The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity citing policy, did not reveal the damage or casualties caused by the airstrikes.
There was no immediate comment from the rebels.
Also Tuesday, a group of soldiers on patrol escaped injury in a roadside bomb blast blamed on the rebels in Batticaloa, the official said. One insurgent involved in the blast was caught, he said.
Batticaloa, which has been hit by frequent violence, is 225 kilometers (140 miles) east of Colombo. The government controls urban areas in the district while some pockets of villages and jungle are held by the rebels.
On Sunday, government naval ships and warplanes destroyed an alleged Tamil Tiger weapons shipment off the eastern coast, killing up to 15 insurgents, according to the military.
``We believe that the ship was carrying artillery ammunition and missiles,'' navy spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake said.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for a separate homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority in the northeast, citing decades of discrimination by the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.
The conflict cost the lives of about 65,000 people before a 2002 cease-fire, which began unraveling in December, and has since claimed hundreds more lives and driven over 220,000 from their homes. More than 400 government troops alone have been killed since July, according to the military.
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Published: Tue Sep 19 06:39:12 EDT 2006