Sri Lanka denies Pakistani pilots flew its planes.

The Commander of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF), Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke, has said that the bombing missions in the just concluded war against the Tamil Tiger rebels were carried out by Sri Lankan and not foreign pilots.

This remark in the Sinhalese language programme ‘Thulawa’ of the state-owned ITN TV is significant in the context of rumours persistently spread by the Tamil Tigers that the Sri Lankan air force was bombing accurately this time only because its planes were flown by Pakistan Air Force pilots.

Air Marshal Goonetilleke said that the SLAF had attacked 1,900 LTTE hideouts and meeting points, and destroyed 52 large Sea Tiger vessels and several Sea Tiger hideouts in the just concluded Eelam War IV.

The commander clarified that the battle against the LTTE was fought by Sri Lankan, and not foreign pilots, countering the LTTE propaganda that Pakistani pilots were doing the sorties as the bombings were remarkably accurate.

Meanwhile, the parents of the slain Tigers chieftain, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had come over to the government side from the conflict zone, and are now in ‘protective custody’, it was reported here on Thursday.

Prabhakaran’s father Velupillai (76) and mother Parvathi (71) surrendered to the army several days ago. They are said to be in a refugee camp in Vavuniya in north Sri Lanka.

The couple had returned to Sri Lanka from Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu in 2003 and had been moving with Prabhakaran from place to place as the government troops advanced in the northern Wanni sector relentlessly over the past year.

May 29 , 2009

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