Several Naga rebels killed along Myanmar border, Army denies surgical strike

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HT Correspondent

DIMAPUR, Sept 27: The Indian Army claimed to have killed a significant number of Naga rebels in an encounter along the Myanmar border. However, it clarified that the operation was not a ‘surgical strike’ and the troops did not cross the Indian territory.

In a statement issued here on Wednesday evening, the Eastern Command of the Indian Army denied that there was no casualty from the Indian army side. It further said that the gunfight between its troops and the NSCN(K) militants took place at 4.45 am.

A large number of NSCN (K) militants were killed in retaliatory firing, the Army said, suggesting that it was more of an encounter that a ‘surgical strike’ launched expressly to eliminate Naga rebels. The Army said that the operation was launched after a group of insurgents attacked an Indian Army column that was moving along the Indo-Myanmar border.

Following the attack, the Army responded with “heavy retaliatory fire” inflicting a “large number of casualties” among the insurgents, the Eastern Command said in the statement.

The Army reiterated that no troops had been killed in the operation.

While the encounter brought up memories of the 2016 cross-LoC surgical strikes in Pakistan and the 2015 strike on Naga militants, the Army said that soldiers did not cross the international border during Wednesday operation.

Last year, in one-of-a-kind operation, Army Special Forces launched an operation to eliminate terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Soldiers and officers from the Army’s Para regiment crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and took out a large number of terrorists in a revenge operation launched in response to the deadly Uri attack.

A year earlier, Army troops reportedly crossed the international border into Myanmar and destroyed two militant outposts, pre-empting a terror attack by Naga terrorists. The Army’s Para regiment was involved in that operation as well.

On the other hand, NSCN(K) claimed that they have killed three Army jawans and injured several others in a gun battle that lasted six to seven hours. “On 27th September at around 3 am, the Naga Army belonging to Elite Unit on combat operation along the international border detected a hesitant column of Indian Army coming from Khonsa in Arunachal Pradesh side near Langkhu village inside Myanmar occupied Naga area which is located around 10-15 kms away from Indo-Naga-Myanmar international border,” it said.

Meanwhile, Eastern Command tweeted, “Reports of casualties to #IndianArmy personnel factually incorrect. Firefight occurred along Indo-Myanmar border at 0445 hrs today @adgpi.” In June 2015, the Army had conducted a similar operation against banned insurgent groups following the killing of 20 soldiers in Manipur.”

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