Power station worker dies in rebel air raid in Sri Lanka's capital

An employee of a power station which came under a night air attack by Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka's capital died as an investigation into damages was ongoing, a spokesman for the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said Wednesday.

The employee did not have external injuries, but appeared to have died of shock during Tuesday night's attack on the Kelanitissa power plant located in a high security zone within Colombo, said the spokesman.

Rebels simultaneously carried out another air raid dropping three bombs on a military base in north-western Mannar, 310 kilometres north of the capital, injuring at least three soldiers, but details of the damages have not been disclosed.

The military downplayed the attack on the power station saying the rebels missed its target and instead damaged one administrative building in the complex which caught fire immediately, dpa reported.

CEB officials expressed concern that rebel low-flying aircraft had reached the target despite prior indications that a rebel plane was heading to Colombo from the north. As a precautionary measure lights in Colombo were turned off before the attack.

Nearly 75 per cent of the country's power distribution is handled through the power plant.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet website said that soon after the attack Sri Lanka's Air Force had sent some of its planes over the rebel-held areas which were using search lights.

Tamil rebels first used their single-engine Zlin-143 light aircraft to drop bombs at an air base adjoining the international airport killing three airmen in March 2007 and are reported to have three similar planes.

Since then they have attacked by air six other times, most recently on September 9 when they bombed a military base in Vavuniya and launched a ground attack in which 25 people from both sides were killed.

Tuesday night's attack came as the government continued military operations in the north after vowing to recapture rebel-held areas by the end of the year.

Tamil rebels also have been putting up resistance while heavy rains have affected both sides in the ongoing offensive.

Military officials claim to have killed more than 10,000 rebels during the past two years and to have lost more than 2,000 security personnel.

The fighting has displaced more than 200,000 persons in the northern part of the country and the government has appealed to civilians to leave the rebel held areas, but the response has been poor.

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