“Chopper hit by LTTE”

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An Air Force helicopter Bell 412 of the VIP Squadron was grounded by LTTE fire soon after it had participated in a flight carrying President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his party to the Arugam Bay bridge opening ceremony yesterday. At the time of the incident the only occupants in the helicopter were were the crew, Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said.

Two helicopters had left for Arugam Bay from Colombo, transporting President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his entourage to the ceremonial opening of the reconstructed Arugam Bay bridge scheduled for yesterday afternoon.

Nanayakkara said the aircraft which developed mechanical problems was the helicopter which transported the Presidential aides.

Police said that the Bell 412 had been hit by gunfire from LTTE when it was returning over the Kanjikudichchhciaru jungles and made an emergency landing in Pottuvil.

According to eyewitnesses the gunfire had hit the under carriage of the aircraft and fuel was leaking from the tank.

“Prior to PresidentA?a??a??s arrival in Pottuvil, the Tigers had fired seven rounds of mortars at the Sengamuwa STF camp but no damage was caused,” a senior Police office said.

A team of investigators and engineers had left Colombo for Pottuvil at the tme this edition went to press.


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