War planes hit Tigers after Muslim massacre, reporters escape bombing

Chandi Dharmaratne

COLOMBO, Sept 19, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan jets bombed suspected Tamil Tiger targets in the island’s east Tuesday, officials said, while rebel mortars killed four soldiers escorting journalists in the embattled Jaffna peninsula.

Israeli-made Kfir war planes bombed positions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the district of Batticaloa, the government’s defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

“We have taken identified LTTE targets in Batticaloa today,” Rambukwella said without giving information on any casualties.

Hours later, Tiger rebels fired mortar bombs at the army’s de facto front line in the northern peninsula of Jaffna as the military brought a group of 25 reporters and photographers to showcase gains of the security forces.

AFP photographer Lakruwan Wanniarachchi was in a convoy of four armoured personnel carriers that were hit by shrapnel from mortar bombs.

Military officials in Jaffna, 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of here, said four soldiers were killed and at least eight others were wounded.

The tour was aborted and the journalists were taken back to the main Palaly airbase further north of the front line.

The attacks came a day after both sides accused