Tigers say air raids kill 15

Sri Lankan separatists accuse the government of killing civilians.

    The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for an independent homeland for almost 20 years [AFP]

    "The Tigers are currently spreading false information ... in an attempt to discredit the security forces."

    Sri Lankan military spokesman

    "There are 15 dead bodies and 25 wounded from the bombing," the spokesman said.


    Only five houses out of 30 were left standing in one village, he said.


    But the military said no civilian settlements had been attacked in the Mannar area.


    It said a Tigers naval base north of Mannar had been hit after surveillance and radio intercepts of Tamil fighters.


    A Sri Lankan military spokesman said: "The Tigers are currently spreading false information that the SLAF [Sri Lankan Air Force] has bombed a civilian settlement in an attempt to discredit the security forces and to win the sympathy of the international community."


    The Tigers have repeatedly accused the government of attacking Tamil civilians in areas under their control, but the government says the Tamil Tigers are using civilians as human shields.


    Velupillai Prabhakaran, Tamil Tigers chief [AFP]

    Fighting between the two groups has increased in recent weeks, with the Sri Lankan military vowing to dislodge the Tigers from their eastern stronghold.


    Court martial


    Last year there were several attacks against senior military officers in the capital, Colombo, which has generated speculation that Sri Lankan officials have been tipping off Tamil Tiger fighters.


    A defence ministry spokesman said that three Sri Lankan military officers have been taken into custody and will face a court martial for helping the Tamil Tigers.


    The officers will stand trial for allegedly passing information to Tamil fighters on the movements of government and military officials, a military spokesman said.


    If found guilty of treason, the officers may face the death penalty.


    At least 3,689 people were killed in fighting last year, according to the Sri Lankan defence ministry.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies.


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