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Tamil Tigers Claim Successful Strike on Sri Lankan Capital


Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka say their suicide air raid on the capital, Colombo, Friday was a success, though both pilots missed their intended targets.

A posting on a pro-rebel Web site, TamilNet, Saturday says the pilots, part of a "Black Air Tiger" suicide squad, were aiming for two Sri Lankan air force installations. But, the Sri Lankan military says it shot down the two planes short of their targets.

One plane crashed into a government building, killing at least two people and injuring more than 50 others. The other crashed north of Colombo. The military says the planes were packed with explosives.

The air raid shows the rebels still have the ability to strike as the military corners them in a small area of jungle in the country's north, far from the capital.

John Holmes, the United Nations top humanitarian official, said at the end of his visit to Sri Lanka Saturday that the rebels and the government should avoid a big final battle.

Holmes expressed concern about the growing number of civilian casualties in the shrinking war zone.

The U.S.-based organization Human Rights Watch says about 2,000 civilians have been killed and another 5,000 wounded during fighting in the past month.

Sri Lanka's war has lasted more than 25 years with the minority ethnic Tamil rebels fighting for an independent homeland. But they have suffered serious losses in recent months, and the military says it is close to defeating the rebel group.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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