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Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Senior Tamil Tiger killed
Sea Tigers
Anthony Jonson was deputy leader of the Sea Tigers
A senior Tamil Tiger rebel leader has been killed in a mine explosion in rebel-controlled territory, according to reports by the Sri Lankan military.

Anthony Jonson was the deputy commander of the seaborne section of the separatist rebel movement, known as the Sea Tigers.

The reports of the blast came as the Sri Lankan airforce carried out a second day of air strikes against targets outside Jaffna aimed at pre-empting a rebel assault on the town.

Jaffna peninsula
A military spokesman, Brigadier Saneth Karunaratne, said aircraft carried out a series of raids on rebel positions in the town of Pooneryn throughout Saturday.

Brigadier Karunaratne said there had also been some shelling, but it was minimal.

Reports from Jaffna said aircraft dropped about six bombs over Pooneryn early in the morning, but there is no news from either side of any casualties.

The latest air strikes come amid fears in the south that the Tigers are preparing for a major attack.

Rebel threat

The military believes Pooneryn is a potential staging post for a rebel attack across the lagoon on the former rebel capital of Jaffna Town, which is currently under government control.

Tamil Tiger anti-tank unit
The Tigers have allegedly been stockpiling weapons
There is increasing concern among military sources in Colombo that the Tigers have been massing troops for an assault to recapture the Jaffna peninsula, which is undoubtedly their long-term aim.

Defence analysts say the new wave of air strikes suggest the government has decided to launch a pre-emptive attack.

They say unofficial reports that the military used artillery after softening up its targets with aerial bombardment suggest a fairly major operation may be under way.

The last big offensive against the Tigers - in April - is generally agreed to have been a disaster for the army, with some 300 soldiers killed and 2,000 others injured.

The commander responsible has been transferred.

Reports say the Tigers have spent the last six months of relative calm on the battlefield bringing in fresh supplies of weapons and training their fighters.

Military analysts say they are now well prepared for any attack on their positions.

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See also:

25 Jun 01 | South Asia
Sri Lankan soldiers killed by mine
17 May 00 | South Asia
Jaffna: Key to the north
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