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Sri Lanka says kamikazes could have destroyed air force

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The Sri Lankan government has said a Tamil Tiger suicide attack on the air force headquarters could have destroyed the country's air capabilities.

On Friday night, two planes loaded with explosives attempted to crash into the capital's air force facilities. Four people were killed and 63 were injured as the two planes crashed into nearby government buildings.

The Associated Press news agency cites government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella as saying that the two planes had been shot down by anti-aircraft guns. One of the planes ploughed into a tax office building nearby while the other was shot down before it entered the base.

Mr Rambukwella said: "If they [the attacks] really worked, there wouldn't have been an air force."

Yesterday, the pro-Tamil website Tamilnet said the raids had succeeded in hitting their targets and denied that the planes had been shot down.

Sri Lankan government forces have made progress in the fight against the separatist forces seizing close to 90 per cent of the area previously controlled by the group that is campaigning for a separate Tamil homeland.

Over 70,000 people have died since the conflict between the government and the Tamil Tigers broke out in 1983.

© Adfero Ltd
22 February 2009 11:07 GMT

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