Myanmar strike: Seven dead bodies recovered, less than a dozen injured, say official sources

Impact on insurgents less than earlier estimates; target was one camp in Onzia and two in Ponyo; NSCN (K) leader, 40 cadres fled camp before strike.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni , Praveen Swami , Vijaita Singh | New Delhi | Updated: June 12, 2015 11:20 pm
army myanmar militants strike, army attacks myanmar militants, manipur ambush, indian army, Myanmar Naga militant camps, army operation against militants, army myanmar operation, myanmar militants attack, Narendra Modi, Hindus massacre, indian express Moreover, the targets, one camp in Onzia and two adjacent camps in Ponyo, did not hit perpetrators of the June 4 ambush that killed 18 Army personnel, said a senior military intelligence official.

The June 9 cross-border strikes by the Army on insurgents inside Myanmar may have had less impact on their military capacity than early assessments had indicated, official sources have told The Indian Express.

Also Read: After Myanmar strike, NSCN-K plans revenge attack; high alert sounded across Northeast

According to assessments being conducted by the Army with Intelligence services, just seven bodies have been recovered so far — as reported by The Indian Express on June 9 — and wireless intercepts suggest less than a dozen insurgents were injured.

Also Read: Modi hardtalk in Dhaka hits a nerve in Pakistan Senate: ‘hostile’

Moreover, the targets, one camp in Onzia and two adjacent camps in Ponyo, did not hit perpetrators of the June 4 ambush that killed 18 Army personnel, said a senior military intelligence official who is involved in collating these assessments.

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“These camps were chosen for reasons of tactical viability, rather than specific retaliatory intent,” said the official, “given the short time frame available…the main idea was to deliver a message that camps across the border were not safe for anyone.”

The special forces went almost 11 km inside Myanmar, 5 km farther than what had been initially planned.

One camp destroyed in Ponyo was being led by Niki Sumi, self-styled “Lt General” of the NSCN-K (on the Indian side). But Sumi and an estimated 40 cadres of the group are said to have left the camp before the strike, an official said.

assamThe latest assessments come even as intelligence services have reported that the 20-member squad responsible for the June 4 attack on the Army may have made its way across the Myanmar border back to its rear base at Tamu.

The Army has made no official claim on casualties. Army headquarters officials had said, in background briefings, that their casualty estimates stand at 20 dead and 11 injured. There were also claims that over 100 insurgents had been killed.

Photographs of the killed insurgents — required to be recorded in military counter-insurgency operations within India — have not been released.

Two separate military officials said the more lethal strike targeted the Onzia camp unconnected to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Khaplang group or the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, the two organisations which claimed responsibility for the campaign.

Indian intelligence had reported since at least 2010 the Onzia camp used to house the so-called 253 Mobile Battalion of the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur since at least 2010.  The camp, Manipur Police sources said, operated mainly to extort funds from traffickers and traders.

Founded in 1978, the ethic-Meitei PLA is known to have received support from the NSCN-K, but is not thought to have been involved in the June 4 ambush.

The camp at Onzia, interestingly, did not figure in a 2013 list of major insurgent camps in Myanmar prepared for the Ministry of Home Affairs. An Army spokesperson said that the Army was aware the camp did not house NSCN-K personnel but added that the target was an umbrella of organisations rather than a specific group.

The second Army attack targeted two adjacent NSCN-K facilities at Ponyo, near the Myanmar town of Lahe, just across the border from the Mon district in Nagaland. The camp, across the border, described by Nagaland Police officials as a relatively minor facility, served as  launch-pad for NSCN-K movement into the state from its rear bases around Taga, in Myanmar’s Sagaing district.

“Though high-profile strikes like these play well on television”, said Ajai Sahni, the Director of the Institute of Conflict Management, “experience from across the world has taught us that they generally prove ephemeral, unless followed up by a sustained campaign to consistently degrade terrorist infrastructure”.

“The attack was a tactical success”, Sahni added, “but by itself, its strategic value is exactly zero”.

S S Khaplang, the aging patriarch of the NSCN-K, has been missing from the organisation’s main base at Taga for several months, and is rumoured to be undergoing medical treatment in Yangon. Intelligence on NSCN-K commanders, however appears to suggest that the group is planning further strikes, military sources said.

Life in the the NSCN’s camps around Taga, a senior military source said, appeared to be largely normal, with no signs that groups had begun to disperse in anticipation of further attacks.

Sources said that Khaplang is said to have approached the Myanmarese authorities for “protection of his cadres” as they were residents of the country.

A high-level meeting, led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh was held at North Block to discuss the aftermath of the strike. It was attended by NSA Ajit Doval, Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Vice Army Chief Lt Gen Philip Campos. At the meeting, it was decided to be prepared for a retaliatory attack by the insurgent groups.

“A two-pronged strategy will be adopted from now on, one is on the offensive side, which means planning note strikes and the other is being defensive, as we expect retaliation,” said a senior government official. A high security alert has also been sounded across northeast after reports that NSCN-K militants have entered India for revenge attacks.

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First Published on: June 12, 2015 4:22 am
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    Haradhan Mandal
    Jun 12, 2015 at 9:15 am
    Looks like 'w thing' is slowly falling apart ! First the picture(photo). Per -govt - It is from an 'operation' in 2009. Within a matter of few days - Govt started contradicting itself. Now about the casualties, who /how many were killed etc etc. "“These camps were chosen for reasons of tactical viability, rather than specific retaliatory intent,” said the official, So the govt itself is claiming - it was NEVER A HOT pursuit. Also the words speak for themselves - "chosen for reasons of tactical viability".
    Reply
    1. S
      Shinwari
      Jun 12, 2015 at 5:46 pm
      we endorse you sardar ji but our acceptance to peace is seen as our weakness in India and statements coming from India are making stani public extremely emotional ane angry. They feel enough is enough lets decide once and all. If there is credible information that India is planning anything against stan, there is strong public opinion in stan that we should attack them preemptively and with impunity. Many military personnel in stan strongly believe that in nuclear war the country attacking first will have upper hand.
      Reply
      1. S
        Satyam
        Jun 12, 2015 at 8:40 am
        Well done express....yellow journalism at its best.... All ur reports are from SOUCES...day isn't far when you'll start reporting on what the crystal ball in your editors room is saying.... Shame on you
        Reply
        1. S
          Shekhar Naik
          Jun 12, 2015 at 6:10 am
          Indian Army personnel and Intelligence unit folks are not supposed to be talking to Indian express reporters all involved should be taken to task including the newspaper.
          Reply
          1. A
            abc
            Jun 12, 2015 at 7:06 pm
            Indian express Editor is always dead against BJP. Every time they goes against BJP .
            Reply
            1. A
              Abhishek
              Jun 12, 2015 at 8:56 am
              Maharaj Praveen Swami strikes back- with a vengeance, along with his "sources"!!
              Reply
              1. A
                A
                Jun 12, 2015 at 6:45 am
                If the above is true then Media has unnecessarily created a sensation out of a small anti-insurgency operation. The statements by Ministers were uncalled for. PMO has to ensure that ministers do not comment on topics that do not refer to their departments. This only gives a handle to our neighbours to comment and BJP gives a topic for legitimate criticism by its political opposition.
                Reply
                1. V
                  Vikrant
                  Jun 12, 2015 at 8:54 am
                  From where is Italian Express getting its numbers - ofcourse from the militants. Do the mouthpiece of militants and CONgress will rely more on what terrorists say and not Indian Army
                  Reply
                  1. V
                    Vikrant
                    Jun 12, 2015 at 8:59 am
                    Nothing more is expected from spineless people like you...
                    Reply
                    1. V
                      Vikrant
                      Jun 12, 2015 at 8:58 am
                      What is the source of information for these news? Do you think militants would come out and say their butt was kicked?
                      Reply
                      1. V
                        Virendra Sason
                        Jun 12, 2015 at 3:24 pm
                        OPERATION MYANMAR ऐसा लगा कही बिजली गिरी, यह ललकार थी, हिंदुस्तानी फ़ौज़ की।
                        Reply
                        1. V
                          Virendra Sason
                          Jun 12, 2015 at 8:39 am
                          OPERATION MYANMAR ऐसा लगा कही बिजली गिरी, यह ललकार थी, हिंदुस्तानी फ़ौज़ की।
                          Reply
                          1. R
                            Raja
                            Jun 12, 2015 at 12:13 pm
                            No need to publish such rubbish articles. What is the point?
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              ap
                              Jun 12, 2015 at 8:21 am
                              Show some spine and stand behind your national armed forces. Indian express has made a habit of writing articles trying to undermine national interests
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                Rahul
                                Jun 12, 2015 at 3:52 pm
                                According to my Intelligence sources engaged in this particular operation, some news outlets are using 'unknown sources' to further political agenda.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  Arun Murthy
                                  Jun 12, 2015 at 1:11 pm
                                  if (post by Praveen Swami) goto comments;
                                  Reply
                                  1. B
                                    Bhat
                                    Jun 12, 2015 at 5:44 pm
                                    I think this w drama is some orchestrated exercise and publicity stunt by present government. They just want to make people believe that this is strong government and will not tolerate any activity against India. Intelligence agencies claim of specific inputs and all nonsense after ambush. Simple question is where these intelligence agencies had been when those militants ambushed the army and killed 20 jawans. Stop fooling people and start some real work for welfare of people. Satyameve Jayate.
                                    Reply
                                    1. B
                                      bluemonkey
                                      Jun 12, 2015 at 3:39 pm
                                      CB Naidu fabricated a story and killed 20 tamils labeling them as smugglers. Modi government has reproduced the same story and used Army as a pawn.
                                      Reply
                                      1. C
                                        chintan jhunjhunwala
                                        Jun 12, 2015 at 8:48 pm
                                        let samgress come into power .then idian express even if two are killed wll turn into 200.
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Mukundan
                                          Jun 12, 2015 at 8:58 am
                                          Indian media always acts in an irresponsible way when it comes to national security, patriotism and Indian heritage.
                                          Reply
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                                            disgusted
                                            Jun 12, 2015 at 8:07 am
                                            As usual another IE story by Praveen Swami to plant doubts and bring down the moral of Indian forces and discredit the Indian Establishment.
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