Sri Lanka says it can shoot down rebel aircraft

June 20, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s military now has the capacity to shoot down Tamil Tiger light airplanes which have bombed four targets on the island this year, the government said Wednesday. The enhanced capability means the island’s only international airport will soon reopen for night flights after its closure earlier this year as a precaution over the attacks, a government spokesman said.

“The night time curfew at the airport will end from July 1,” Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters.

“The air force has assured us that they received material to detect and identify Tiger planes,” he said.

Military officials said the decision came after better radar was installed to track low-flying aircraft belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The airport shut for night flights in May.

The air force has also received unspecified “material” to detect and eliminate the threat of the rebel planes, he said.

The rebels, who are fighting for an independent homeland for the island’s minority ethnic Tamils, have bombed military and economic targets near the airport and in the north of the island this year.

The partial closure was prompted by fears that the