LTTE air base attack costs 15 million dollars

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Colombo, Oct 26 (UNI) Sri Lanka today said the Commando-style suicide attack on a key Air Force base at Anuradhapura in the north-central province has destroyed eight air craft worth 15 million dollars.

''The loss is around 15 million dollars,'' Air Force Commander Roshan Goonatilleka told reporters here, stressing that the aircraft were damaged due to the rebel ground attack and not by the aerial attack.

Claiming that the Indian radar system worked well, he said the ''attack capability of the Sri Lankan Air Force has not been affected in anyway''.

A 21-member ''Black Tiger'' suicide squad infiltrated in to the well-fortified Air Force base and carried out a major pre-dawn attack on Monday destroying at least three aircraft, including an expensive high-tech Beechcraft surveillance plane two Russian-build MI-24 helicopters, and killing 13 airmen and a military officer.

''Beechcraft cost about three to four million and with the equipment it may be six million dollars,'' the Air Force chief said, adding that it would take about four months to replace the lost aircraft.

He said the air force manning the base at the time of the attack repulsed the rebel attack and saved several aircraft parked at the camp from being damaged.

In their first ever coordinated land and air strike, the Tigers used their light wing aircraft to bomb the base while staging a devastating attack after infiltrating into the airbase.

The Air Force chief has initiated a top-level inquiry into the base attack.

UNI

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