LTTE Terrorists attack
Colombo International Airport
Twelve Aircraft Destroyted by Terrorists
The United States, Britain and Russia today chorused their condemnation of terrorist attack on the Katunayake International Airport. A statement from the State Department in Washington DC said the LTTE chose their targets without regard for the safety of civilians, including tourists. Britain and Russia were also critical of the attack, calling it a cowardly act carried out in desperation, which left 21 people dead and the airport crippled.
LTTE terrorist carnage
Sri Lanka's international airport has re-opened a day after it was attacked by Tamil Tiger terrorists. Officials say flights have resumed from the capital, Colombo, to take away the thousands of tourists who were stranded there.
Eighteen people were killed and many injured in the attack, which is threatening to severely damage the country's popularity as a tourism destination. Six passenger planes - half the Sri Lankan Airways fleet - and eight military planes were set on fire by terrorist mortars and suicide bombers in the Tuesday morning assault.
The airline lost three Airbus aircraft and had three more grounded, causing estimated damage of more than $350m - roughly equal to what tourism officials say the country earned from tourists last year. The country's tourist board asked hotels in the capital to give free accommodation to tourists who were caught up in the fighting.
Tourists Flee Airport Gun Battle
HUNDREDS of foreign tourists and civilians were forced to run for their lives yesterday after a suicide squad of Tamil Tiger terrorists launched an attack on the international airport at Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo.
Forty-seven Britons were among those caught up in the fighting. Some of the British tourists, waiting in the departure lounge to fly home, described how they were forced to take cover in ditches and airport buildings as mortar rounds and orange tracer bullets criss-crossed the runway and bullets raked the main terminal building.
At least 20 people died during the night-time assault, all of them military personnel or terrorists, in one of the most audacious international terrorist attacks in recent years.
The Sri Lankan military appeared to have been caught completely by surprise as some 20 terrorist fighters, dressed in military fatigues, burst through perimeter fencing at Bandaranaike International Airport shortly after 4am local time.
The attack initially focused on the military air base adjacent to the airport but quickly spread as Sri Lankan commandos joined battle with the separatist terrorists.
Some of the terrorists, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and automatic rifles, blew themselves up in the main terminal.
According to the authorities, the bodies of 13 terrorists were found and seven members of the security forces were killed. Twelve people, including four civilians, were wounded. No foreign tourists were injured. Amid the chaos, hundreds of civilians and passengers had to crawl along roads for safety as gunfire ripped through the main terminal building.
Within minutes of the attack, three Airbus airliners - two A340s and an A330 - belonging to SriLankan Airlines were ablaze on the runway aprons, forcing air traffic controllers to divert in-bound flights to Madras. Two more airliners were seriously damaged.
On the Katunayake military air base, eight aircraft were destroyed including two Israeli Kfir jets, a Ukranian-built Mig-27 jet fighter and an attack helicopter.
There were unconfirmed reports last night that the terrorists had penetrated roadblocks by driving in a private coach with drawn curtains. Dawn broke to reveal the smouldering remains of 13 military and civilian aircraft as a pall of oil smoke rose over the airport 20 miles north of Colombo.
One tourist said: "Our worry now is that everyone will think we are fine. But we have seen the airport. It's in bits. The Tamils are a serious terrorist group. They can shoot an aircraft out of the sky. We feel extremely unsafe and don't know when we are going to get home."
Sri Lanka Airlines cancelled yesterday's flight to Colombo from Heathrow. The Foreign Office last night advised all British nationals flying in and out of Colombo to check with their tour or airline operator before departure.
Within hours the Sri Lankan government sought retribution for the attack, launching a series of air strikes on Tamil positions in the north of the country.