Lanka jets bomb restive north | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 25, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 25, 2008

Lanka jets bomb restive north

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Sri Lanka warplanes bombed a suspected rebel boat yard and provided cover for ground troops pushing into rebel territory, the defence ministry said yesterday.
Scattered battles killed seven Tamil Tiger separatist rebels and one government soldier along Sri Lanka's northern front lines, the military said Saturday.
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.
Army troops launched two separate attacks along the front lines in the Jaffna peninsula and destroyed 13 rebel bunkers Friday, a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of government policy. He did not give casualty figures.
Other fighting in the Vavuniya and Mannar regions bordering the rebels' de facto state in the north killed seven rebels and one soldier Friday, he said.
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 image to win sympathy from the international community.
At least 20 civilians were killed in the Tamil Tiger-held north of Sri Lanka Friday in attacks by government commandos and the air force, the rebels said.
An army "Deep Penetration Unit" set off a fragmentation mine against a minibus packed with civilians near the rebels' main base of Kilinochchi, a statement from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said.
It said 16 people, all members of the same extended family, died in the attack. The rebels earlier said 17 civilians had been killed.
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.
The LTTE have been fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils since 1972, from the majority Sinhalese community in the island's north and east.
Tens of thousands have died on both sides, in one of Asia's longest running ethnic clashes.

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