Sri Lanka bombs Tamil Tiger jungle base for three days

Sri Lanka's air force bombed a major Tamil Tiger rebel base in the eastern jungle for the third consecutive day Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said.

The Tigers' Thoppigala camp serves as a major training base for the rebels. It is considered one of the last rebel redoubts in the east as Sri Lankan forces have carried out several ground and air attacks over the past year and captured territory.

"This morning we have taken a target there," military spokesman, Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe told reporters.

Casualty and damage details were not immediately known.

Rebel officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The rebels, formally known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, retain a stronghold in the north. They were weakened in the east after a top commander broke away from the mainstream group with his eastern-based cadres in 2004.

The rebellion was suppressed, but the commander, known as Karuna, has regrouped and often attacks the mainstream group, allegedly with the support of the military. The government denies giving any backing to the breakaway group, the AP said.

Relief agencies have warned of an escalating humanitarian crisis in the east, where tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in recent weeks because of an escalation in fighting.

The rebels have fought since 1983 to create a separate state for the ethnic Tamil minority in the north and northeast, following decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.

About 65,000 people died in the conflict before the government and rebels signed a Norwegian-brokered cease-fire in 2002.

Renewed fighting has killed about 4,000 people since the truce faltered in late 2005, European cease-fire monitors say.

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