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Archive for Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rebel planes shot down over capital

February 21, 2009

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— Defying the government’s efforts to destroy them, Sri Lanka’s rebels sent two planes on a surprise raid over the capital Friday night before anti-aircraft fire shot both of them out of the sky, the military said.

One plane crashed into a government office building in the heart of Colombo, killing the pilot and a bystander and wounding more than 40 others. The other came down in a suburb, killing that pilot as well, the military said.

The brazen raid by the Tamil Tigers’ tiny air wing came amid an all-out army offensive that forced the rebels out of nearly all their strongholds in the north and left them on the brink of defeat in their quarter-century separatist war.

The raid was an embarrassment for the government, which said two weeks ago that it had seized all the rebels’ airstrips, effectively grounding their small force of light aircraft.

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