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News


Why weren’t flying Tigers intercepted?


The large haul of lethal C-4 explosives carried by the downed LTTE aircraft at Katunayake being gathered by Air Force ground troops yesterday morning (Pic by Ishara S. Kodikara)

Questions are once again being asked as to why the Air Force failed to intercept the LTTE aircraft before they reached Colombo, on their ninth air raid on Friday night. This is in the light of the service publicly stating that it was well prepared to meet any challenge from the rudimentary aircraft operated by the Tigers.

Some are of the opinion that they should have been intercepted before reaching Colombo knowing the fact the threat they pose to the vital installations in the Commercial Capital.

Air Force Spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara yesterday, however, said that it was impossible to attack LTTE aircraft, because they were flying at 300 feet, which was too low for Air Force planes.

He insisted that the Air Force was on alert to meet the enemy from the time they were spotted around 8:30 pm and their arrival time was estimated. When the aircraft reached Colombo to attack the Air Force Headquarters, they were successfully shot down, according to the spokesman.

“Once they reached an altitude of around 10,000 feet, they could be targeted successfully. When the aircraft is flying at a lower level it is impossible to attack,” he explained.

This was the ninth attack carried out by the LTTE since 2007. The first was on March 26, 2007, when they attacked Katunayake, followed almost a month later on April 24, 2007, by an attack on Palali. April 29, 2007, saw Kolonnawa being targeted with October 22, 2007, being the last attack of that year in Anuradhapura.

Last year, there were four more attacks. The first of 2008 was on Welioya on April 26, August 26 on Trincomalee and the third on September 9 on Vauniya. Many will remember the Talliadi and Kelanitissa attacks on October 28, as the last sighting of the LTTE aircraft before Friday.