Days after militants killed 18 Armymen in Manipur, the special forces of the Army today conducted military operations inside Myanmar inflicting what it called “significant casualties” on the groups behind that ambush, the NSCN (K) and the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL).
While the Army’s statement said that the operations were at two locations along the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur and Nagaland, sources said special forces had gone across the border and were in “constant communication with Myanmar authorities”. Later tonight, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that it was a cross-border operation, “unprecedented and extremely bold.” All Army men are said to have returned safe.
Until late tonight, sources said, seven bodies of suspected militants had been recovered and operations were still on. Early reports put the number of militants killed at 14-18 but sources said that the number could go up as more details emerge.
Sources said the operations, which began at 7 am today, were conducted by 21 Special Forces (Para) — a unit under Kolkata-based Eastern Command headquarters — along with troops of 27 Sector and 10 Sector of Assam Rifles. 27 Sector is headquartered at Pallel in Chandel district while 10 Sector is headquartered at Ukhrul and its area of responsibility stretches to the Myanmar border in Nagaland.
The operations are being led by IG Assam Rifles (South), Major General Rajeev Chopra, headquartered at Imphal. IG Assam Rifles commands a division-sized force which operationally comes under 3 Corps headquartered at Dimapur.
Saying that the Army had been on “high alert” after the Manipur attack, Major General Ranbir Singh, Additional Director General Military Operations, said that over the last few days, “credible and specific intelligence” was received about further attacks being planned within India.
“These attacks were to be carried out by some of the groups involved in earlier attacks on our security personnel and their allies…In view of the imminent threat, an immediate response was necessary. Based on intelligence, we conducted operations to counter these planned assaults,” Singh said. “As a consequence, threats to our civilian population and security forces were averted.”
“The units/ men were handpicked for the operation by Delhi. The operation is believed to have been going on for about 48 hours,” said an official source in Manipur, “parts of which are still ongoing.”
Militant camps exist on the Myanmar side of the thickly forested border. After carrying out attacks, militants were believed to have crossed the border.
“We are in communication with the Myanmar authorities on this matter. There is a history to close cooperation between our two militaries. We look forward to working with them to combat such terrorism,” Singh said.