Sri Lanka steps up air strikes against Tamil Tigers

Feb 22, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan war planes stepped up bombing raids inside Tamil Tiger-controlled territory Friday, a day after intense ground battles left at least 95 people dead, the defence ministry said. Jet fighters hit a key base of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the morning after air strikes against two rebel artillery positions in the same region, the ministry said.

No details were given of losses, but pilots were quoted as saying they had successfully destroyed the artillery positions and a “Sea Tiger base” near Kilinochchi, the LTTE political capital.

However, the Tigers said that the planes had bombed a village.

“Five civilians were killed and seven more were injured, two of them critically, when Sri Lanka bombed a coastal civilian settlement today,” the LTTE said.

The Tigers are fighting for independence for Sri Lanka’s minority ethnic Tamils concentrated in the north and east of the island.

The latest raids came after the ministry said 92 Tamil rebels and three government soldiers were killed in battles for a bunker line in the north on Wednesday.

According to the defence ministry, some 1,450 rebels have been killed so far this year. The military es