Sri Lanka on alert after new flying Tiger threat

COLOMBO, April 27, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka was on high alert Friday over the threat of another Tamil Tiger air attack, the morning after a suspicious aircraft forced the closure of the island’s only international airport. “We are on alert. In fact, every day we are on alert now and we have beefed up our measures,” air force spokesman Ajantha Silva said.

Overnight Thursday, the sky over the Katunayake international airport near Colombo — where government warplanes are also stationed, sharing a runway with civilian passenger jets — was lit up with anti-aircraft gunfire.

Authorities also switched off electricity to the capital so that potential targets would not be illuminated.

“Sri Lanka’s air force engaged its air defence weapons at a suspicious aircraft observed in the Katunayake sky,” the defence ministry said during the night.

It said the “suspicious air move” was also detected by radar, but there was no rebel attack using the aircraft.

However, military bases south of the front-line dividing rebel-held territory from the rest of the island opened fire on Thursday night to prevent any air attack, military sources said.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been figh