Tamil rebels attack naval base, shoot down helicopter

Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka have stepped up their activity, with two attacks on military equipment Monday.

An air force helicopter was shot down by members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, just hours after a suicide attack on a nearby naval base.

An army spokesman said the rebels shot down the Russian-built MI-24 helicopter in the Upparu area, and the air force was trying to find it.

The helicopter had at least three crewmen aboard.

It is the second helicopter shot down in about a week.

Earlier Monday, military officials said they blew up three Tamil boats that were on a suicide mission to attack the Trincomalee naval base.

Sri Lankan boats fired on the attack boats and others in the area. Two sailors were killed in the exchange of fire. There is no word on rebel casualties.

Though the operation was foiled, a transport ship was damaged in the explosions. Military officials said the rebels also fired mortars from a nearby beach.

Following a period of relative calm surrounding Oct. 10 parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka, violence erupted again as the cabinet was about to be sworn in.

The Tamils have been fighting for an independent state in the north and east of the country since 1983. The election was fought over different approaches to combating the rebellion.