Sri Lankan troops capture rebel town
Wed October 29, 2008 06:03 EDT .
RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Troops captured a small village in northern Sri Lanka - on Wednesday, pushing ahead with their offensive against the Tamil Tigers hours after the rebel group launched a brazen airstrike on the capital, the military said.
Soldiers fought for hours with the rebels, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, before taking control of the town of Jayapura and cutting off yet another small part of the rebels' de facto state in the north, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
``The LTTE have retreated due to the resistance of the army,'' he said.
The government, which has pushed deep into the Tamil Tiger heartland, has vowed to destroy the rebel group by the end of the year and win the 25-year-old civil war plaguing this Indian Ocean island nation.
However, the rebels have repeatedly shown they retain the capacity to carry out startling attacks on the government.
Late Tuesday, the Tamil Tigers' rudimentary air force bombed a power station on the outskirts of Colombo, taking the fight to the government. The military raked the sky over the capital with anti-aircraft fire and scanned the skies with searchlights.
The attack marked the first time rebel planes bombed the capital in more than a year.
The bombing damaged some turbines at the power station, officials said. A worker hospitalized after the attack died on Wednesday, said Nanayakkara.
The military, embarrassed by the continuing bombing runs by the rebels' tiny fleet of small planes, said it was searching for the attacking aircraft, which apparently escaped back into rebel-held area after the attack.
``We are of course targeting the locations where they are having their aircraft, and at the same time, whenever they are airborne ... we send our aircraft to engage,'' Nanayakkara said.
The attack began late Tuesday when rebel aircraft dropped three bombs on an army base in the Mannar district in the north, injuring three soldiers, the military said.
About an hour later, aircraft struck the power station in Colombo, far to the south of the initial strike.
It was also not clear if the plane that attacked Colombo was the same aircraft that attacked Mannar or if there were two planes, Nanayakkara said.
Such attacks are a huge morale boost for the reeling rebels.
The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority. The conflict has killed more than 70,000 people.
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Published: Wed Oct 29 07:46:00 EDT 2008