Sri Lanka warplanes bomb restive north: defence ministry

May 24, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka warplanes bombed a suspected rebel boat yard and provided cover for ground troops pushing into rebel territory, the defence ministry said Saturday.

On Saturday, the proxy Tamil National Alliance (TNA) also accused the government of carrying out attacks against civilians.

“We vehemently condemn the cowardly and brutal attack of the Sri Lankan government on civilians. Government has again clearly proved that it never gives up its anti-democratic violence against Tamils,” the TNA said.

However, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) accused the airforce of dropping bombs over a group of civilians fleeing fighting in the restive north, killing an infant and a 17-year-old girl.

The conflicting accounts came a day after the LTTE said government commandos set off a fragmentation mine against a minibus packed with civilians near the rebels’ main base of Kilinochchi, killing 16 people.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website said government commandos had also bombed an ambulance inside the guerrilla-held north, killing two civilians on Friday.

The military denied both charges and accused the rebels of trying to “tarnish” the army’s i