Sri Lanka troops capture Tamil Tiger air strip: military

January 15, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan troops have captured another air strip used by Tamil Tiger guerrillas to launch airborne attacks with light planes, the defence ministry said Thursday. The makeshift jungle runway is the fifth of its type to be overrun by government soldiers who are rapidly advancing on areas in the north once controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The ministry said the air strip at Iranamadu, south of the Tamil Tigers’ former political capital of Kilinochchi, was protected by bunkers and trenches.

However none of the light planes used by the LTTE to hit targets across the island were recovered.

The LTTE are believed to have five Czech-built Zlin-143 aircraft, smuggled onto the island in pieces and re-assembled. The guerrillas last launched an air attack early in September, when they bombed a military base.

The rebels are now almost totally confined to the jungle and lagoon district around Mullaittivu, their main military base on northeast coast. Sri Lanka’s government pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered truce with the rebels a year ago, and stepped up its bid to dismantle the LTTE’s northern mini-state once and for all.

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