Sri Lanka: Air raid by LTTE over Colombo

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On Saturday 28th April, the whole of Sri Lanka was watching the World Cup cricket finals on TV, cheering the Sri Lankan team against defending champions Australia. Suddenly the city of Colombo was plunged in to darkness. Residents in some areas reported hearing two loud explosions while many areas in and around Colombo heard loud gun fire, while flares lit up the night sky. Several civilians sustained injuries due to the firing and some houses were damaged.

News soon spread that the LTTE's newly formed air wing had carried another bombing raid, this time targeting an oil refinery and gas storage in the north of Colombo city. Later reports indicated that the damage caused by the bombs were not extensive.

Two days earlier, on Thursday night, the Colombo airport was shut down for about 45 minutes, after reports of 2 unidentified air crafts sighted off Puttlam, north of the airport.

Attached please find news reports from local newspapers, on the above.

(Cover story from Sunday Times – 29th April 2007)

LTTE air raid over Colombo

Tiger aircraft bomb Kolonnawa oil installation and Muthurajawela gas facility in midnight attack

The city of Colombo was brought under a total blackout shortly after midnight today as two Tiger rebel aircraft entered the city to attack targets.

One of the aircraft had dropped bombs at a fuel dump in the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation's (CPC) oil installations in Kolonnawa. Another bomb was reported to have fallen at an LPG gas facility in Muthurajawela, triggering off a large fire. The Colombo Fire Brigade was called in to douse them.

Reports of the intrusion of the LTTE aircraft came as Sri Lankans watched the World Cup cricket finals in . Whilst a blackout was in force, troops in security forces installations in the city including Army Headquarters, the Air Force Base at Ratmalana and VVIP residence began firing volleys of flares into the sky. The firing from the SLAF base was intense.

The SLAF base at Katunayake also began firing flares and shooting into the sky fearing it was a second attack on the base in two months. Civilian flights were cautioned about these developments over Colombo 's skies. Air Force spokesman Group Captain Ajantha Silva said that after receiving information about suspicious aircraft, they activated the air defence system in places such as Air Force headquarters, Colombo harbour, the Kolonnawa Petroleum Distribution Centre, and the Sapugaskanda oil refinery.

Explosions were heard in different parts of the city, including Ratmalana, Battaramulla and Kollupitiya causing concern among the public. The blackout was restored only after it was confirmed that the guerrilla aircraft had left. Reports from Mannar later confirmed sighting the aircraft in the skies over Mannar.

Neither Colombo nor Ragama hospitals reported any wounded people seeking treatment following the incident. Shortly after the bombings in Colombo , Air Force jets pounded locations in LTTE-controlled Kilinochchi.

An hour later, there was widespread confusion that the guerrilla aircraft had returned. It turned out to be a commercial airliner.
The pilot is reported to have later complained to airport authorities at Katunayake about the firing. However, the aircraft was not hit.

(from Daily Mirror – 30th April 2007)

Tiger aircraft eyed gas storage?

By Yohan Perera, Senaka De Silva and Sarath Chinthaka
Amidst panic and tension in the city after the attempted LTTE air attack on the gas storage in Muthurajawela and the oil refinery at Kolonnawa at dawn and the excitement over the World Cup final yesterday, several houses in Colombo were damaged while at least five persons were injured by shrapnel.A spokesman for the Colombo National Hospital said three Army personnel, two private security guards and a doctor from the Kolonnawa area were rushed to hospital after sustaining injuries during accidental firing during the panic.

“Two of them are in a critical situation but the others would be discharged soon,” the hospital spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Kalubowila OIC D.S. Tissera said three houses in the area were damaged by what appeared to be shell shrapnel. He said the damage caused to the roofs were similar to those caused by shrapnel. However Police said there was no evidence to suggest by whom these shells were fired.

Five houses in Welampitiya also suffered similar damages, police said.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said they saw the suspected LTTE aircraft flying low over their roofs.

Rochelle Mendis from Kolonawa said she and her family were outside their house during the power cut when they saw a plane. “It made a low sound minutes after we saw something like a huge ball of fire,” she said.Several residents in the Pamunugama area too said they saw a plane flying very low while residents from Muthurajawala called for more security at the Shell Gas storage complex. They said a major explosion would affect more than 1000 families living in the area.

(Daily Mirror 30th April 2007)

Several houses hit, civilians injured

By Sandun A Jayasekera
Eight civilians in Wellawatta were injured in the mayhem that broke out following the LTTE aerial attack early last morning.

One of the injured persons, Tambaiah Aiyar Dharmapalan (50) of Fernando Rd, Wellawatta, explaining his harrowing experience to ‘Daily Mirror’ from his hospital bed at the Accident Ward of the Colombo South Hospital said, “I was watching the Cricket World Cup final when lights went off around 1.30 a.m. with the sound of an explosion. It was pitch dark. I felt something hit on my chest and I even heard the sound of the object coming from the roof. I panicked when I felt I was bleeding and fainted. I came around only this morning at the hospital”

Kamala Devi, (45) of

Havelock Rd, Colombo
6, from her bed at the accident ward of the Kalubowila Hospital said “I was sleeping on the verandah last night when the electric bulb exploded and electricity went off. I felt a searing pain on my thigh. When I touched it I felt I was bleeding heavily. Then my husband opened the door and we herd gun fire every where.”

6, from her bed at the accident ward of the Kalubowila Hospital said “I was sleeping on the verandah last night when the electric bulb exploded and electricity went off. I felt a searing pain on my thigh. When I touched it I felt I was bleeding heavily. Then my husband opened the door and we herd gun fire every where.”

Pathima Nislin Ameen (27) of

Nelson Rd
, Wellawatte was injured when an object came through the ceiling of her bed room and hit her.

, Wellawatte was injured when an object came through the ceiling of her bed room and hit her.

Colombo South Hospital Accident Ward Director K.D. Atapatthu said injuries had been inflicted by metal objects and pieces of glass and the injuries were not of serious nature. Wellawatte Police OIC Mangala Dehideniya said he collected a nozzle of a cartridge of a five zero gun from the scene at Mrs. Pthima’s residence.


(From Asian Tribune – 27th April 2007)

LTTE airplanes sighted: Colombo International airport closed and Colombo city lights switched off

Fri, 2007-04-27 04:35

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 27 April, (Asiantribune.com):

The Sri Lanka government temporarily closed the Colombo International Air Port and switched off lights in the Colombo city on Thursday night, after suspicious unidentified aircraft were seen flying along the Western coast, sources in Colombo said.

took such precautions since light propeller driven airplanes were involved in bombing sorties first in Katunayaka Sri Lanka Airforce base and allegedly in the Palali Air force base.

A military source was quoted having said, "Some civilians in Puttlam district had seen three aircraft flying from north to south hugging the sea. With suspicion, contingency plans have been activated because of the imminent risk of threat, closing off the entrance of the airport and switching power off."

On April 24 LTTE airplanes bombed military positions in the North killing or injuring six military personnel. The first bombing by the airplanes took place less than a month ago at Katunayaka Sri Lanka Air Force base . The second one took place in the North.

The Indian military’s defence website reported the Jaffna incident as follows: “Liberation of Tamil Tigers Elam (LTTE) rebels launched a second air attack on a Sri Lankan military base in Jaffna Peninsula , in which at least six army personnel were injured.

“ The ground fire forced a plane to turn away before it hit the intended target, said an army spokesperson. However, the rebel group claimed that the base was hit.

“ According to reports, the air raid was carried out at night. Earlier on March 26, the LTTE carried out a bombing sortie on the Katunayake Air base.

“ The target of the attack was suspected to be Fifth Jet Squadron and 10th Fighter Squadron hangars located in the airbase. No fighter aircraft were then damaged, but three air force personnel were killed and 17 were injured in that attack.

“ The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, is a militant organization that has been waging a secessionist campaign against the Sri Lankan government since the 1970s in order to secure a separate state for the Tamil majority regions in the north and east of (formerly ).

“The LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by 32 countries. The LTTE is headed by its founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran.”

- Asian Tribune -