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Sri Lanka rebels say air force bombs near stronghold

Written by: Staff
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COLOMBO, Nov 21 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels today said air force fighter jets dropped bombs near their northern stronghold of Kilinochchi, but said they did not have any details of damage or casualties.

''We are being bombed,'' rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan told Reuters. ''The bombs are falling near Kilinochchi. The buildings in town are vibrating.'' ''They have dropped about 20 bombs so far,'' he added. ''There was no provocation.'' He estimated the bombs were being dropped less than 4 km from the rebel stronghold.

Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said he had no immediate details of any air raids.

A litany of military clashes and attacks have killed more than 3,000 civilians, troops and Tiger fighters so far this year in a new chapter of the island's two-decade civil war.

Many ordinary Sri Lankans fear the violence will escalate now that the island's 2002 truce has disintegrated in all but name. Fighting since the conflict began in 1983 has killed more than 67,000 people.

Sri Lanka's main financial donors -- the United States, Japan, Norway and the European Union -- are meeting in Washington to discuss the island's deteriorating security situation, and are expected to call on today for a halt to hostilities and escalating rights abuses blamed on both sides.

President Mahinda Rajapakse, elected a year ago, has flatly rejected rebel demands for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka's north and east, where they already run a de facto state.

REUTERS SB BST1057

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