Investigators salvage wreckage of rebel planes shot down in Colombo

Other News Materials 21 February 2009 07:56 (UTC +04:00)

Investigators on Saturday salvaged parts of two light aircraft commandeered by Tamil rebels and shot down by the Sri Lankan Air Force, military officials said, according to dpa.

Two people died and at least 53 were wounded in an air attack by Tamil rebels on Colombo late Friday. Military officials and hospital authorities said the planes dropped bombs close to the Air Force headquarters in the heart of the Sri Lankan capital.

The wreckage of one plane shot down near an air base in Katunayaka, 30 kilometres north of Colombo, and the second that crashed into a government building, were found, an Air Force spokesman said.

The two aircraft, which had taken off from a Tamil rebel-held area in northern Sri Lanka, flew to the northwestern side of the country and travelled along the western coast to reach the capital, the spokesman said.

Two bombs were dropped on a building close to the Air Force headquarters. The military confirmed the target appeared to be the headquarters, which was less than 150 metres from the bombed building.

The attacks came as the government said that Tamil rebels had been cornered into a 100-square-kilometre area in the northeast.

In March 2007, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked Sri Lankan Army positions and an air base close to the international airport in Colombo, killing three soldiers and wounding 17.

A month later, the LTTE carried out air attacks on an army base in the north and two oil depots in the capital.

During recent operations, however, the military has captured at least five air strips used by rebels in the north.