Sri Lanka 's air force bombs rebel base
Sat August 9, 2008 03:58 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's air force bombed and destroyed a Tamil Tiger rebel base in the country's embattled north on Saturday, while infantry clashes in the same region killed 31 rebels and four soldiers, the military said.
The military has increasingly used airstrikes to try to weaken the rebels as part of an ongoing campaign to drive the guerrilla's from their de facto state in the north.
In the latest assault, air force fighter jets pounded a Tamil Tiger supply base and an intelligence operation center deep in rebel-held Mullaitivu district early Saturday, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.
He said the airstrikes were successful and had destroyed the base.
Separately, helicopter gunships overnight hit a radio center operated by the Sea Tigers, the rebels' naval wing, in their stronghold of Kilinochchi, he said.
Meanwhile, ground fighting continued Friday along the front lines in Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Welioya regions, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.
Heavy fighting took place in Mullaitivu, leaving 20 rebels and three soldiers dead, he said. In Vavuniya, two separate clashes killed five rebels and one soldier, he said.
Separate confrontations in Welioya region killed six rebels, he said.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be reached for comment on the military's casualty figures, which were impossible to verify because reporters are barred from the war zone.
Both sides routinely exaggerate enemy casualties and underreport their own.
The rebels have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization of ethnic Tamils by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Published: Sat Aug 9 10:18:19 EDT 2008