Armed with torches,LTTE pilots were on suicide mission

Tamil Tigers on Saturday said the two aircraft they sent to carry out audacious attacks on the Sri Lankan capital were on a “suicide mission” and were not meant to return.

Written by Press Trust Of India | Colombo | Published:February 22, 2009 2:17 am

Tamil Tigers on Saturday said the two aircraft they sent to carry out audacious attacks on the Sri Lankan capital were on a “suicide mission” and were not meant to return.

The LTTE said two men from the elite “Black Air Tiger” suicide squad piloted the two light aircraft that carried out the attack on Friday night and claimed they were not shot down.

The rebels claimed the aircraft had been sent to pick up prize targets in Colombo and it was this intention that they crashed the plane onto two defence installations.

“The aircrafts dived into Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Headquarters in Colombo and into the SLAF base at Katunayaka at 9.15 pm on Friday,carrying out successful air raids,” pro-LTTE website TamilNet.com reported.

That it was a suicide attack is being confirmed by the Sri Lankan authorities who said one of the aircraft was carrying large quantity of explosives (almost 280 pounds of high explosives).

TamilNet.com also published a photograph of the two suicide pilots — Col Roopan and Lt Col Siriththiran — with LTTE chief Prabhakaran said to have been taken shortly before they embarked on the death mission.

The LTTE aircraft had no night vision equipment and the two pilots navigated the aircraft over 300 km by torch light and used hand-held GPS device. The two aircraft had reportedly taken off from Pudukudiyyiruppu,the last bastion of the LTTE in Mullaittivu,and came to Colombo via Mankulam and Mannar to avoid radar detection.

That the pilots were flying the aircraft by torch light was evident when eye-witnesses saw them moving dangerously without any fixed pattern over the Colombo sky.

Commercial pilots said it was not easy to fly low at night. “Probably,the Tiger pilots could have been trained abroad.”

The LTTE are known to have five Zilin 143 Czech-made planes smuggled into the country in parts and re-assembled.

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