Sri Lanka steps up air strikes on Tamil rebels
Sun November 9, 2008 04:16 EST .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's air force stepped up its strikes against the Tamil Tigers' de facto state in the north Sunday, pounding two rebel positions, the military said.
Fighter jets hit a rebel artillery gun position and a command center in the guerrillas' northern stronghold of Kilinochchi, said air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara.
He said the pilots had confirmed they hit their targets, but that damage and casualty details were not immediately available.
It was not possible to contact rebel officials for comment because most communication lines to guerrilla-held areas have been severed. Independent accounts are difficult to obtain from the battlefield because most journalists are barred from the war zone.
The military says army troops are closing in on Kilinochchi, the rebels' administrative capital, in a campaign aimed at routing the guerrillas and ending their 25-year-old war, which has killed more than 70,000 people.
Officials have pledged to crush the guerrillas by the end of the year.
Government troops have made dramatic progress on the northern fronts in recent months, seizing a series of rebel bases and chunks of land, but the guerrillas have offered stiff resistance.
The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by ethnic Sinhalese.
Published: Sun Nov 9 06:53:27 EST 2008