The Indian Army, in a joint operation with the Air Force, engaged groups of militants at two locations on the Indo-Myanmar border today and said it had inflicted “significant casualties.” Initial reports suggest that about 50 or more militants have been killed in the operations.
Sources said among the militants killed today are those behind last week’s Manipur ambush of an Army convoy in which 18 soldiers were killed in Manipur’s Chandel district, the deadliest attack on security forces in two decades.
Starson Lamkang of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN(K), who is suspected to have played a key role in organising the June 4 ambush, is reportedly injured in today’s operations.
Mi-17 helicopters of the Air Force were deployed and, sources said, the Assam Rifles and the Army’s Special Forces – 21 Para (SF) – carried out surgical strikes inside Myanmar, where the militants had fled to, entering about 2 km into the neighbouring country, something that was not confirmed by the Army.
“It is not like a kabaddi match where you can come in and go back. We will cross over and we will hit, we were supported by the Myanmar army,” Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told.
Major General Ranvir Songj said today’s operations followed “very credible and specific intelligence” that the militants were planning to carry out more attacks. “Early this morning, the Indian Army engaged two separate groups of insurgents along the Indo-Myanmar border at two locations, along the Nagaland and Manipur borders. Significant casualties have been inflicted on them. As a consequence, threats to our civilian population and security forces were averted,” the General said.
Sources said that several standard operating procedures appear to have been violated, starting with the fact that the critical road opening party — tasked with clearing the route of the convoy — having failed to detect the presence of the militants. While the convoy — consisting of soldiers of the 6 Dogra Regiment proceeding on leave — was a soft target, the militants also managed to box in a leading vehicle the consisted of the elite ‘Ghatak’ quick reaction team of the regiment.
Officials believe that the militants carried out the attack after over two weeks of preparation and deliberately chose a spot for the ambush that fell between the responsibility areas of the 20 Assam Rifles and the 6 Dogra Regiment.
Insurgents ambushed a military convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district last week, killing at least 18 soldiers in one of the worst attacks on the Army in years.
Sources said the operations took place in Ukhrul, Manipur, and in Tuensang district of Nagaland, where a mixed group of militants attempted to infiltrate into India.
Militants belonging to People’s Liberation Army (PLA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) have been killed.
The Army has said it is “in communication with Myanmar authorities and look forward to working with them to combat terrorism.” General Songj said the Army would firmly deal with any threat to India’s security.