Army inflicts ‘heavy casualties’ on Naga militants along Myanmar border

Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Guwahati | ByRahul Singh and Utpal Parashar
Sep 28, 2017 09:00 AM IST

The army said its troops were fired upon by unidentified insurgents leading to the gunfights. Indian soldiers, however, did not cross the international border.

Soldiers inflicted heavy casualties on militants belonging to the NSCN(K) along the Myanmar border in Nagaland early on Wednesday, the army said.

Border Security Force soldiers patrol the India-Pakistan border.(AP File Photo)
Border Security Force soldiers patrol the India-Pakistan border.(AP File Photo)

Unidentified insurgents indiscriminately shot at an army column moving along the Indo-Myanmar border at 4.45am, the Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command said.

But the soldiers brought the insurgents under “heavy retaliatory fire”.

“Own troops suffered no casualties during the firefight,” the Eastern Command said in a brief statement.

An army column consists of up to 100 soldiers.

The army did not put a figure on the number of slain insurgents, but on previous occasions when the force announced heavy casualties the figure was around 40 to 50.

The Eastern Command denied media reports that Wednesday’s operation was a “surgical strike” conducted across the border in Myanmar. “It is reiterated that own troops did not cross the international border,” the statement said.

The army crossed into Myanmar on June 9 and destroyed two militant camps — five days after the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Khaplang (NSCN-K) ambushed a convoy in Manipur and killed 18 soldiers. It was the biggest loss for the army in a single attack in nearly two decades.

A Facebook post by a militant leader claimed the army crossed the international border, a charge the military categorically denied.

The gunfight happened on the outskirts of Langkhu village inside a Myanmar-occupied Naga area, about 15km from the border, wrote Isak Sumi, who is said to be on the National Investigation Agency’s “most wanted list” of militants.

“The encounter started around 3am when the elite unit of the Naga Army detected a column of Indian Army approaching their temporary makeshift camp… The exchange was continuing till the time of filing this report,” said Sumi, who is referred to as the PRO of the NSCN(K) by the NIA on its website.

The 2015 strikes in Myanmar were carried out as insurgents often attack soldiers and slip through the porous border to safe havens in the neighbouring country.

A bilateral agreement with Myanmar allows free movement of people from the two countries within 16km of the border.

India is reviewing the impact of the agreement amid a large number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar and seeking refuge following a military crackdown in the Rakhine province.

The visa-free movement along the Indo-Myanmar border allows people to stay for up to 72 hours in the area with valid permits issued by the authorities.

(with agency inputs)

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