Sri Lanka launches air attacks on Tiger rebels

July 26, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan war planes bombed suspected Tamil Tiger positions in northeast Sri Lanka Wednesday after the rebels allegedly blocked an irrigation canal, a government minister said. Israeli-built Kfir jets pounded bases of the rebels at Maavilaru and Hirugalaru in the northeast district of Trincomalee where the Tigers had blocked the waterway, Policy Planning Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

“Purely as a humanitarian gesture, we were sending irrigation engineers to open the sluice gates that had been closed by Tigers,” Rambukwella told AFP.

“But they could not move without the support of troops.”

“We have taken several targets by air in support of the ground troops who escorted the engineers because they were afraid to go on their own,” he added.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) made no immediate comment on the surprise air raids, but the pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said two civilians were wounded in the attacks.

Two houses were also destroyed in the airforce bombing, the Tamilnet quoted a regional Tiger leader, S. Elilan, as saying.

He said three sorties had been carried out in the farming area.

The attack came as the United Nati