Sri Lankan air force attacks rebel camps
Sun September 7, 2008 04:59 EDT .
BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's air force launched attacks on two Tamil separatist camps in the embattled north Sunday, and infantry clashes elsewhere in the region killed eight rebels and three soldiers, the military said.
Helicopter gunships attacked a Sea Tigers camp in Kavitaramunai in the rebel stronghold of Pooneryn before dawn, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara. The Sea Tigers are the rebels' naval wing.
Hours later, fighter jets bombed a rebel training camp deep in guerrilla-held territory in Mankulam, Nanayakkara said.
Pilots said both attacks were successful but details of casualties were not immediately available, he said.
Meanwhile, ground battles Saturday along the front lines separating government-controlled areas from rebel-held territory left eight rebels and three soldiers dead, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.
Clashes in Vavuniya killed five rebels and three soldiers, while fighting in Welioya and Kilinochchi killed three rebels and wounded eight soldiers, he said.
With communication all but cut with the northern areas, rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not be reached for comment.
Fighting has escalated on the Indian Ocean island in recent weeks with the government intensifying its campaign against the rebels' de facto state in the north, promising to crush them by the end of the year.
Independent verification of the fighting and casualties is difficult to obtain because most journalists are banned 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.Discuss this story
Published: Sun Sep 7 06:56:20 EDT 2008