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Sri Lanka says it captures rebel runway

Sri Lanka says it captures rebel runway

Sri Lankan forces captured a fifth runway used by the Tamil Tigers' small air wing Thursday as troops pushed deeper into their shrinking enclave in the northeast, the military said.
In recent weeks, government troops have forced the rebels to withdraw from wide swaths of their de-facto state in the north and boxed them into a corner of jungle along the coast.
Troops uncovered a runway more than half a mile (more than a kilometer) long carved out of the jungle near the Iranamadu area, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.
It was the fifth hidden runway the military has captured from the rebels, he said. There were no planes in the area.
The nascent rebel air force has repeatedly embarrassed the government over the last two years by launching air raids into government-held territory, bombing the airport and a power station in the capital of Colombo and an air base in the north.
The small planes were believed to have been dismantled, smuggled onto the island and reassembled here.
The rebels could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, fighting flared Wednesday between troops and rebels in the north, the military said. Government forces recovered the bodies of six slain rebel fighters.
Also on Wednesday, government forces seized Chundikkulam village _ the final strip of rebel-held land on the northern Jaffna peninsula _ giving them full control of the symbolic heart of Sri Lanka's Tamil community, Nanayakkara said.
Last week, troops captured the Elephant Pass base, the insurgents' final stronghold on the peninsula.
The rebels have been fighting since 1983 to establish an independent state for minority Tamils, who have suffered marginalization at the hands of successive governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.


Updated : 2021-02-26 04:37 GMT+08:00