Sri Lanka: July 25, 2001

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  The final casualty count for the rebel aircraft attack is; 14 rebels, seven airport police dead, 12 airport police and four airport staff wounded. Three commercial aircraft were destroyed (two 250 ton AirBus 330s and one 300 ton AirBus 340) and three damaged. Six fix winged military aircraft (two Ifirs, one MiG-27 and three K-8 trainers) and two helicopters (a Mi-24 gunship and a Mi-17 transport) were destroyed. The 14 man rebel suicide squad were seen having a last meal at a picnic area outside the airport in the hours before they made their assault. Civilians reported the suspicious group of men, but police did nothing. Because of a drought, electricity was turned off to most users before midnight. This cut the lights around much of the air port and air base perimeter fence. That's when the rebels went to a remote portion of the perimeter fence, changed into military uniforms and picked up their weapons and explosives (which were apparently brought there by other rebels.) The fence was then cut, the airbase entered and attacks made against military aircraft with anti-tank rockets (RPG/bazooka type.)  Airport security police were slow to respond, and this allowed the rebels to move over to the adjacent civilian airport and attack large transports. At least three of these attacks were made by suicide bombers (who had explosives strapped to their bodies.) The rebels had a lot of weapons with them, including nine assault rifles, three machine guns, one 40-mm 
grenade launcher, eight explosive charges and six shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons (RPGs). 

 

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