Sri Lankan chopper attacked

A Sri Lankan airforce helicopter came under attack Wednesday while on its way to the island’s restive eastern coast to pick up foreign diplomats, a military official said. A Sri Lankan airforce helicopter came under attack Wednesday while on its way to the island’s restive eastern coast to pick up foreign diplomats, a military official said. The Mi-17 transport helicopter took four hits from small arms fire in the Arugam Bay area and made an emergency landing at the Ampara airfield, but there were no casualties, the official said.

Tamil rebels from the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were suspected of having carried out the attack, the official said.

Despite a truce with the LTTE, there has been a spate of attacks against government forces and civilians as well as internecine clashes among rebel factions.

An upsurge in violence that claimed the lives of at least 35 people in the past week had raised doubts over the truce. But both the LTTE and the government have committed themselves to upholding the ceasefire.

The island’s decades-old Tamil separatist conflict claimed over 60,000 lives between 1972 and 2002 before a truce went into effect. –