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Rebel air raid thwarted by Sri Lankan air defense system

THE timely activation of the air defense system in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo had thwarted last night's Tamil Tiger air raid in the city, the Sri Lanka Airforce said today.

"The activation of the air defense system prevented the LTTE suicide attack", Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara, the airforce spokesman said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) carried out an air raid targeting the Sri Lanka Airforce headquarters and the Airforce base at Katunayaka outside the capital near the only international airport.

The LTTE's small aircraft hit the Department of Inland Revenue building in downtown Colombo, which is close to the Sri Lanka Airforce headquarters.

The military said the rebel plane was hit by the anti-aircraft gun fire before it rammed into the 13th floor of the Inland Revenue building. At least two people died and over 50 others were injured.

"The two planes were carrying around 150 grams of C4 explosives", Nanayakkara said adding that if the rebel bomber had succeeded in hitting his intended target, the destruction would have been massive.

The second rebel airplane which had targeted the Katunayaka airbase was shot down with its pilot killed.

Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, deputy minister of finance said the attack on the Revenue Department had not damaged its data bases and the damage could be restored by next Tuesday.

"Only the 13th floor suffered direct damage and other floors had felt the impact", Siyambalapitiya added.

The last night's air raid was the first rebel military response to their successive military defeats when they lost Kilinochchi, their administrative capital early in January. Now government troops are in their last hold of Mullaithivu and are on the verge of completely crushing the Tiger rebel challenge.


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