[ AFP ]
Sri Lanka stepped up air attacks against Tamil Tiger rebels Wednesday, deploying jets and helicopter gunships as 12 guerrillas were killed in ground battles, defence officials said. Fighter jets bombed a suspected Tamil Tiger base in the northern town of Oddusudan overnight while Mi-24 helicopter gunships were deployed to attack rebel bunkers further north in the Jaffna peninsula, officials said. Verification of casualty claims is impossible as Colombo bars journalists and aid workers from travelling to embattled areas. Tens of thousands of people have died since 1972 when the Tamil Tigers launched an armed struggle to carve out an independent homeland in the island’s north and east for Tamils.