COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan warplanes on Saturday attacked a camp housing Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bombers in the country's north, the military said. The rebels, however, dismissed the claim.
The camp was located at Iranamadu, close to the rebel stronghold, Kilinochchi, military spokesman Maj. Upali Rajapakse said. It suffered "heavy damage," but exact details were not available, he added.
Tigers military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan denied that any camp was attacked. But he said two air force planes bombed a jungle area in Iranamadu, and no casualties were reported.
"They (the military) are imagining things quite well," Ilanthirayan told The Associated Press by telephone from Kilinochchi.
Another rebel spokesman, Daya Master, said the government's airstrikes were meant to spread fear among the Tamil people as the guerrillas prepare to celebrate "Martyrs' Day" on Monday, when reclusive leader Velupillai Prabhakaran delivers his annual speech.
Tamil Tiger rebels have frequently employed suicide bombers to assassinate top political and military figures and attack military and economic targets during their separatist war against the government.
Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake are among those who have been killed in such attacks.
Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga survived a suicide attack blamed on the rebels, but lost one eye.
Tamil Tiger rebels have fought the government since 1983 demanding a separate homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils, citing decades of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.
A 2002 cease-fire reduced the violence but more than 3,200 fighters and civilians have been killed in airstrikes, mine attacks, assassinations and heavy arms fire since December.