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Sri Lanka flights grounded by rebel air strikes – airline officials

Sri Lanka flights grounded by rebel air strikes – airline officials

COLOMBO (XFN-ASIA) – Three international airlines have stopped or altered flights to Sri Lanka following air raids by the Tamil Tigers near the international airport, airline officials said.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific said it had suspended all flights to the island in the wake of yesterday’s pre-dawn air strike by the Tamil Tigers, who used light aircraft to bomb two fuel depots near Colombo.

Singapore Airlines said it will only fly into Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) – which shares a runway with the Sri Lankan air force – during daylight hours.

‘As a security precaution with regards to the extenuating circumstances in Colombo, we have rescheduled our flight departure and arrival times,’ a Singapore Airlines official told Agence France-Presse.

‘It will be a day time flight instead of a night flight.’

Dubai’s Emirates airline, which briefly suspended flights to Colombo in the wake of the attack, said it had taken the same decision to only offer daytime services.

The decisions come despite assurances from Sri Lanka that the authorities are capable of dealing with the air threat from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The country’s media minister, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, said in a statement that the ‘government is fully capable of meeting any challenges from the LTTE terrorist outfit.’

He also promised ‘all effective steps would be taken to ensure the safety of the nation and its people.’

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