24 July, 2021

Black July, Yet Again

The latest rebel offensive is yet another headache for an already beleaguered president

Black July, Yet Again
In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, 14 armed rebels wearing military uniforms cut through the chain link fence just beyond the Colombo International Airport entrance road. Taking off their shoes and lining them neatly, the group walked the two miles to the hangar area which the Sri Lankan air force shares with the island's only international airport. On their way, they passed the quarters of air force officers, fast asleep after a party that had continued beyond midnight.

Soon a series of explosions rocked the airport—within minutes, two Israeli-made Kafirs, one Russian-built mig-27 ground attack aircraft, two MI-17 helicopters and three brand-new K8 trainer aircraft were blown into smithereens. "This does not make any severe dent in the air force's attack capability," says Iqbal Athas, Sunday Times' defence columnist, "but the losses are substantial—they will have to make good the losses at a cost of about $30 million."

The explosions goaded the soldiers into opening fire at the attackers. The rebels retreated towards the international airport across the...

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