Colombo, Sep 22: Sri Lankan fighter jets bombed Tamil Tiger territory for a third day running today, the military said, while a suspected rebel roadside bomb hit a civilian bus in the island's northeast, killing the driver.
The violence in the restive north, the focus of renewed civil war between the state and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is the latest in a rash of near daily land and sea battles, ambushes and air strikes in recent months.
The air force said jets bombed a rebel convoy early today, near the site of a military complex it said pilots hit on September 21. The Tigers said the bombs hit a civilian settlement, killing an 85-year-old man and wounding five others.
''We had intelligence reports that there was vehicle movement in that area removing some items from the military installation and the jets went and took the target this morning,'' air force spokesman Group Captain Ajantha de Silva said.
Pro-rebel website www.tamilnet.com posted photographs of two civilians they said were admitted to hospital in the Tiger de facto capital of Kilinochchi in the far north lying in bed with bandages, one on a saline drip.
''Do you think that people will survive and just need saline if they are caught in an air raid?'' said De Silva. ''We are 100 percent sure about the target,'' he added. ''The air force don't bomb civilian targets.'' There was no independent confirmation of what the jets hit or how many people were killed or injured.
In a separate incident in the northeastern district of Trincomalee, suspected rebels ambushed a civilian bus with a Claymore mine, killing the driver, police said.
The violence comes on the heels of a new offensive launched by the Sri Lankan military this month to drive the rebels from the northwestern district of Mannar, after pushing them out from jungle terrain they controlled in the east earlier this year.
An estimated 5,000 people have died since early last year in renewed fighting after a peace process collapsed. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since the war erupted in 1983.