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Sri Lanka finds wreckage of bombed passenger plane after 14 years

Colombo, Oct. 12 (Xinhua-ANI): Sri Lanka said Friday that it had found the wreckage of what is believed to be a passenger plane shot down by Tamil Tiger rebels 14 years ago.

The’Lion Air’ domestic passenger plane went missing over the northern seas in September 1998 with 48 passengers and seven crew members onboard.

The incident took place during a peak period in the 30-year war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels and there was suspicion the plane may have been shot down by the rebels.

It was the first passenger plane to have been shot down by the rebels but at the time the rebels said they were not involved.

Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told Xinhua that on a request made by the police Terrorist Investigations Division (TID) the navy searched a location in the sea north of the country and found the wreckage of a plane. “We found parts of a plane in the area but we still have not decided on any salvage operation,”the navy spokesman further added.

The wreckage of the plane was found off Iranativu Island after a rebel who is in TID custody had revealed the whereabouts from where the plane was shot down.

The ill-fated Lion Air 602 took off from Pallali airport in the northern town of Jaffna on Sept. 29, 1998 and was heading to the Colombo airport when it disappeared from the radar screen 10 minutes after takeoff.

Family members have been since trying to obtain information about those missing but as the wreckage of the plane could not be found they were left in the dark.

The rebels and the Sri Lankan military fought a bitter 30-year war in which thousands were killed. The rebels were eventually defeated in May 2009. (Xinhua-ANI)