Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers stage another air attack

September 8, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels Tuesday staged another air strike in the island’s north and carried out a long-range artillery barrage, local residents and officials said. Tens of thousands of people have died since the LTTE launched a separatist campaign in 1972 to carve out a homeland for minority Tamils in the majority Sinhalese island’s north and east.

Residents in Vavuniya, 256 kilometres (160 miles) north of the capital Colombo, said they saw anti-aircraft fire illuminating the night sky while huge blasts were also heard in the de facto frontier town.

“We heard the noise of a light aircraft,” a resident said by telephone. “Anti-aircraft guns of the military fired for about 20 to 30 minutes.”

It was not immediately clear if the Tigers’ light aircraft had caused any damage, but residents said just before the planes were seen over the area they heard artillery fire.

Local military officials said they were tracking rebel aircraft on their radar.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) carried out an air attack against the northeastern port town of Trincomalee two weeks ago. At least four people were killed and another 10 wounded in that attack