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Sri Lanka air force bombs kill two civilians - Tigers
Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:35 PM IST29
 

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COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers said on Tuesday that air force jets bombed a village under their control in the island's north, killing at least two civilians, but the military said it was targeting a training camp and mortar post.

The air raids in the northern district of Vavuniya came amid a brief lull in Sri Lanka's two-decade civil war, though many analysts and civilians fear the conflict will flare again soon.

"Four or more (Israeli-made) Kfir bombers bombed a civilian settlement close to Omanthai in Vavuniya. Rescuers have recovered two dead persons and one injured," Tiger military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan said by telephone from the rebels' northern stronghold.

"It's feared there may be more casualties," he added. "Our suspicion is that they are punishing the Tamil people. It's not new."

Omanthai is near defence lines that separate Tiger-controlled territory in the north from the rest of the island, which is under government control.

Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said jets had bombed locations west and northeast of Vavuniya.

"Air Force jets took two targets. One was a mortar position. The other was a training camp," he said, adding that two dozen civilians had fled from Vavuniya to government territory on Tuesday saying the Tigers wanted to recruit their children as fighters.

Emboldened by the capture of a key eastern Tiger stronghold, the government has vowed to wipe out the rebels, reigniting a civil war that has killed 4,000 people in the past year.

The Tigers resumed their fight for an independent state after President Mahinda Rajapakse flatly rejected their demands for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east.

Suspected Tigers have mounted a series of ambushes and bomb attacks against the security forces in recent months, including a roadside bomb attack on Saturday that killed four people in the besieged, army-held Jaffna peninsula in the far north.

Clashes have eased in the last few days but the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels have ignored repeated pleas from the international community to halt a new chapter of a war that has killed more than 67,000 people since 1983, and analysts fear it will escalate.



© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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