Sri Lanka strikes back with air attacks as losses mount

April 24, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka carried out retaliatory air strikes against Tamil Tiger rebels Thursday, a day after intense artillery battles left hundreds killed or wounded, according to officials on both sides. Military jets pounded a suspected hideout of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the coastal district of Mullaitivu where the guerrillas have their main military bases, the defence ministry said.

A spokesman said a location identified as a training camp for suicide bombers was hit in Thursday’s strikes.

There was no immediate word from the LTTE, but there was a lull in fighting in the northern peninsula of Jaffna where intense artillery duels raged Wednesday.

The separatists said they were planning to return the 30 bodies of government troops they captured after the major battle at Muhamalai on the Jaffna peninsula.

“Clearing operations are underway,” LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan said in a statement.

He said the Tigers, who have been fighting for decades for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, had killed more than 100 government troops and wounded about 500.
Ilanthiriyan put LTTE losses at 16 dead.

However, the defence ministry said its for