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Tamil Rebels Report Army Air Strikes in Batticaloa

The Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka say government war planes have bombed one of their key bases in the eastern district of Batticaloa, inflicting heavy casualties.

The army has not yet commented and there is no independent confirmation of the attack.

A rebel spokesman said the base is about 90 kilometers away from Trincomalee where they fought on Thursday for the control of an irrigation canal.

The rebels seized the canal July 26 and shut the sluice gates, depriving thousands of farmers of water. That blockade ended this week, with both the army and the rebels taking credit for it.

More than 400 people were killed in the two-week fighting. The rebels say the conflict also displaced tens of thousands of people in the region.

Reports from Colombo say the latest fighting is threatening a cease-fire agreement that the two sides reached in 2002.