Sri Lankan air force bombs the offices of the Tamil Tigers' political chief as the military pursues separatist guerrillas.
Tamil Tiger offices bombed
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA // Sri Lankan air force jets bombed the offices of the Tamil Tigers' political chief today as the military pressed forward with its resurgent offensive against the separatist guerrillas, the military said. The attack on Balasingham Nadesan's office in the war-torn north came a day after the air force bombed the offices of the rebels' peace secretariat, the headquarters for its negotiating team in long-defunct peace talks. The locations of the two offices were well known, but the military had refrained from targeting them. The decision to bomb them sent a strong message that the government - which has vowed to crush the Tamil Tigers by the end of the year - no longer considered any rebel targets off limits. The military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said air force jets hit Mr Nadesan's office at 9.20am local time today. He gave no details of damage or casualties. Jets also attacked a rebel base in the area about the same time, he said. In an e-mailed statement, the rebels said the air force attacked their police headquarters in Kilinochchi. It was not clear whether this was the same building the military said it hit. Troops have pushed deep into rebel-held territory in the north amid heavy fighting in recent weeks. Yesterday, scattered battles killed 42 rebel fighters and two soldiers, Mr Nanayakkara said. Troops also killed three rebels in the eastern Trincomalee district, the military said in a statement. The government said it drove the rebels out of the east last year, though pockets of resistance remain. With nearly all communications to the north severed, rebel spokesmen could not be contacted for comment. Both sides have been accused of exaggerating enemy casualties while underreporting their own. The rebels have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east since 1983, following decades of marginalization of ethnic Tamils by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict. * AP