And unlike what has been reported in the media, an Army source said: "There was no heli-drop. It was a one-night, ground operation. We couldn't have carried out a heli-drop because that would have alerted the militants." The SF troops were moved close to the border in advance by helicopters.
On Monday night, about 20-25 commandos trekked across the porous frontier into Myanmar. For some stretch of the approach to the camps, the commandos crawled to move in undetected. About 25 commandos of the 21 Para Special Forces (SF) battalion were involved in the 45-minute-long raids on two militant camps across the India-Myanmar border. An SF battalion usually comprises four teams, each of about 100 commandos. These are further divided into groups and then into squads.
According to sources, these highly-trained Special Forces personnel had been operating in Jorhat, Assam, and surrounding areas. "They are trained for such operations, so the turnaround wasn't very long," one source said. These operations are part of the ongoing Operation Hifazat in the Nagaland-Manipur-Arunachal Pradesh area, but this top secret cross-border raid had no specific name.
Once specific intelligence inputs came on the two camps, showing that they were housing several NSCN(K) militants, and of other groups such as PLA (Peoples Liberation Army of Manipur), UNLF (United National Liberation Front) and the MNRF (Manipur Naga Revolutionary Front), the plan for the commando raid moved quickly. "Inputs clearly said that some militants in the camp were involved in the attack on our troops in Chandel last Thursday," one source said.
At a camp in the Ponyu area, the NSCN(K)'s 3rd brigade [the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang)] is based. And among its cadres were those who participated in operations against the Army. In Aungzeya area was the other camp which housed a mixed group of militants. Both camps had about 25 militants. "There was only a bit of resistance. We almost completely surprised them," a source said. "The militants didn't expect India to cross the border. That barrier has been breached."
More than 24 hours after the Special Forces' raid on militant camps in Myanmar, there was no credible confirmation about the final toll. Some sources put the total number of dead at about 100. But army sources said their final count was 20.According to army, 11 militants suffered serious injuries while 15 others suffered light injuries Meanwhile, MHA sources said the toll was around 50 at least.
NEW DELHI: Indian Army's surgical strike deep inside Myanmar, bordering Manipur, lasted for about 45 minutes and over 100 northeast militants may have been killed in the operation, a ministry of home affairs source told TOI.
Army's strike against militants was so precise that latter had no chance to recover from first burst of fire. Indian Army forces faced no retaliation and not a single shot was fired by militants. Six injured rebels are admitted in a hospital.
Myanmar has since cordoned off the area where Indian Army undertook operations against northeast insurgents. On Nagaland border too, Army's special forces pursued militants into Myanmar and killed 15 insurgents.
The Myanmar government was informed hours after the commandos in battle fatigues had mostly completed surgical strikes against the groups which had over the past couple of weeks killed 30 Indian soldiers.
The operation, conceived as retaliation as well as the declaration of Modi government's intent to strike at terror threats across its borders, had begun at 3am but the Indian ambassador could pass on the information to Myanmar's foreign ministry only after their offices opened at regular hours on Tuesday morning.
The commandos safely returned to Indian territory after silencing the insurgents' guns. IAF choppers and drones assisted the SF (special forces) soldiers.
Minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told Times Now that the hot pursuit was ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said attacks on Indians, be it in Iraq or Yemen, were unacceptable. "This is a message to neighbours who harbour terrorists," Rathore said.
Announcing the success, the government made it clear that it was not a one-off operation but symbolized its decision not to be constrained by borders and to be pre-emptive in dealing with terror threats. "While ensuring peace and tranquility along the border and in the border states, any threat to our security, safety and national integrity will meet a firm response," the Army declared officially, a posture that is also applicable to terror groups sheltered by other neighbouring countries.
The troops were guided to two camps of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) and allied insurgent groups by intelligence which was gathered by operatives who crossed over into Myanmar a couple of days ago and returned with precise co-ordinates of the terror dens along with photographs.
|Naga insurgents ambushed an Indian army convoy and killed 20+ soldiers.|
Briefing the reporters after the successful strikes on the camps at two separate locations across Tuensang in Nagaland and Ukhrul in Manipur, Major General Ranbir Singh made no bones of the fact that the twin operations were provoked by the killing of Indian soldiers.
More importantly, he said the Army had to move in view of "credible and specific" intelligence about more attacks inside India. "These attacks were to be carried out by some of the groups involved in earlier attacks on our security personnel and their allies," said General Singh, additional director general of military operations.
"In view of the imminent threat, an immediate response was necessary," he said. Government sources said the political leadership cleared the cross-border pursuit because it was considered necessary to lift the morale of the Army after it lost 30 of its men in 3 attacks by insurgents, as well as to send across a message to "perpetrators of terror wherever they are".
Explaining Modi government's new stance towards terror threat, a senior official told TOI: "You cannot realistically hope to prevent each terror attack because the timing and the target is determined by the enemy. But how do you respond is your prerogative. And it is the response which defines your determination to use all responses at your disposal to strike at those responsible."
|Armed insurgents of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) from India.|
|A group of Indian army commandos crossed into Burma and killed 20+ Naga insurgents.|