Sri Lanka sets up hot line to track flying Tigers

March 28, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Wednesday set up a telephone hot line to receive information about aircraft operated by Tamil Tiger rebels after they staged their first aerial strike against the military.

President Mahinda Rajapakse initiated the dedicated telephone number manned by the military as an early warning system about intruding rebel aircraft, a spokesman for his office said.

“The toll free telephone number 116 is dedicated to receive information about suspicious flying activity,” the spokesman said.

On Tuesday, the president said the Tamil Tigers’ acquisition of aircraft could be a threat to South Asian security.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Monday flew over the main military air base and escaped unscathed after dropping several bombs that killed three airmen and wounded 16 in addition to damaging two parked aircraft.

Rajapakse has also ordered an investigation into the major security lapses that allowed the attack — which has seriously embarrassed the island’s defence establishment — to take place even though the planes were spotted on radar.

The Tigers possess at least two Czech-built Zlin-143 single-engine four-seater aircraft and an airfield