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Cablegate: Amembassy Colombo Eac Addresses Ltte "Air Tiger"

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0989 3050417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310417Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8840
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2366

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000989

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/RD/SCA, DS/DSS/ITA, SA/INS AND CA
NEW DELHI FOR LEGAL ATTACHE'S OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC PTER
SUBJECT: AMEMBASSY COLOMBO EAC ADDRESSES LTTE "AIR TIGER"
ATTACK ON 10/28/2008

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 29, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo
convened an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) meeting to
discuss security for the official and expatriate American
communities in light of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) "Air Tiger" attacks on the evening of October 28,
2008. The EAC agreed that it would be prudent to issue a
Warden message, outlining the specifics of the attacks.
However, the EAC did not feel that the attacks posed a new or
specific threat to the American community and therefore did
not recommend additional security measures at this time. End
summary.

2. (SBU) On October 29, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo convened an
EAC meeting. Present for the meeting were the Deputy Chief
of Mission, Regional Security Officer, Consular Officer,
Political Officer, Economic Officer, Regional Affairs
Officer, Management Officer, Public Affairs Officer, USAID
Director, IBB Station Chief, Community Liaison Officer, and
Marine Security Guard Detachment Commander. The EAC
discussed security for the official and expatriate American
communities in light of the LTTE "Air Tiger" attacks on GSL
installations during the evening of October 28, 2008.

3. (SBU) Between approximately 2230 and 2330 hr. local (1300
and 1400 EDT) on October 28, 2008, the LTTE air wing, known
as the "Air Tigers," carried out bombing raids on a military
base in the Mannar district of Northern Province and a power
station in Colombo. In the first attack on the Tallady army
base in Mannar at about 2230 hr., LTTE aircraft dropped at
least two bombs, injuring two soldiers and causing minor
damage. In the second incident, at approximately 2330 hr. at
the Kelanitissa power plant (located within Colombo,
approximately eight kilometers northeast of the American
Embassy), another LTTE aircraft dropped two bombs. The
ensuing explosions set fire to a power generator. The Colombo
Fire Brigade quickly extinguished the blaze. A Ceylon
Electricity Board employee who was at the plant during the
attack later died of a heart attack in a local hospital.

Note: RSO maintains a map of terrorist incidents in Colombo
on the Embassy's unclassified Intranet page:

http://colombo.state.gov/documents/ColomboTer roristincidents.pdf

4. (SBU) Upon detecting the LTTE aircraft, Sri Lankan
security forces activated an air attack defense plan,
illuminating the skies over Colombo with high-intensity
searchlights and extinguishing electrical power in most of
the city to adopt a "blackout" mode. The Embassy's lights
remained illuminated when the emergency generators activated.
Sri Lanka police asked the guard force to turn off the
Embassy's lights, but the Embassy did not comply with the
request. (During similar incidents in early 2007, the Embassy
compound remained illuminated.) In addition to extinguishing
power, security forces discharged anti-aircraft batteries,
while some soldiers and police fired small arms
indiscriminately into the air. The GSL restored electric
power to most areas of the city at approximately 0030 hr. on
October 29.

5. (SBU) The EAC concurred that the attacks did not signal an
increasing danger to either the official or expatriate
American communities. The Air Tigers have flown into Colombo
on previous occasions and attacked GSL military or economic
targets. No official American residences are located in the
vicinity of the power plant. RSO's security briefings and
post's security information for the general American
community already address the GSL's response to Air Tiger
attacks (blackouts, anti-aircraft batteries and falling
shells) and precautions to take during such attacks.
Nonetheless, the EAC agreed that the Consular Section should
issue a Warden message, detailing the facts of the incident
and reiterating measures that American citizens can take to
mitigate the threat during an Air Tiger raid. Beyond issuing
the Warden message, the EAC concurred that security measures
in place at Mission facilities and residences are
commensurate with the actual threat, and therefore the EAC
recommended no changes to post's security posture.

6. (U) Post will report further developments septel. POC for
this message is RSO Michael V. Perkins, who may be contacted
at 94.11.249.8885, 94.11.249.8888 (MSG Post 1 after regular
business hours), and by email at perkinsmv@state.gov
(unclassified) or perkinsmv@state.sgov.gov (classified).
Blake

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