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Oct 29 Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger air wing struck
again and escaped an air force dragnet, in what analysts on
Wednesday said was proof the rebels are not out of the war
despite a punishing offensive against them in the nation's
The raids on a Colombo power station and a northern military
camp late on Tuesday are the eighth and ninth carried out by
the "Air Tigers", known in the Tamil language as Vaanpuligal,
since they shocked the world with their first attack in March
Here are some facts about the Air Tigers:
* Security experts say the ramshackle force of
propeller-driven single-engine planes flown by the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) may be the only combat air fleet
operated by an insurgent group or any group on U.S. and E.U.
terrorism lists. The LTTE is on both.
* The Air Tigers debuted in March 2007 when a single
aircraft dropped homemade bombs on a barracks in an air force
base next to the international airport in Colombo, killing
three airmen and wounding 16.
* On Sept. 9 this year, a rebel aircraft bombed a major
military base in Vavuniya, just south of the frontlines, in
conjunction with a ground attack by "Black Tiger" suicide
fighters that killed at least 25 in total.
* After the Sept. 9 attack, the air force afterward said it
had shot the aircraft down, which the rebels denied. No
evidence has been made public by either side.
* Five other attacks include: an April 2007 attack that
inflicted minor damage Colombo oil storage facilities; another
April 2007 attack on an airbase in northern Jaffna that killed
six soldiers in combination with artillery fire; an October
2007 attack on an airbase in Anuradhapura in north-central Sri
Lanka that killed nine and wounded 20; an April 2008 run at a
military forward operations base in Welioya that damaged
nothing; and an Aug. 26 attack on the navy base at the eastern
port of Trincomalee that wounded 10 sailors.
* The air force's inability to stop previous attacks has
been a source of frustration and embarrassment, but the
military has said it can deal with the threat.
* Before the Sept. 9 attack, Sri Lanka's military had said
the Tigers were flying three single-engine Zlin-143 light
aircraft, believed smuggled onto the Indian Ocean island nation
in pieces and reassembled. Military analysts had estimated the
original fleet to have been as many as five, but no one but the
Tigers can say with certainty, and they have not done so.
* The Zlin-143 has a small profile that makes it easy to
fly at a low level to avoid radar detection. Since the military
has put up anti-aircraft radar and stepped up combat air
patrols, the rebels have usually kept their flights short. That
has given them chances to strike and land in camouflaged jungle
hideouts before infinitely superior air force jets intercept
(Compiled by Bryson Hull; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani; Colombo