Baruah, Khaplang escape unhurt in Myanmar army attack on N-E rebels` camps

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NEW DELHI, Sept 14 (Courtesy TOI): In a boost for Indian security concerns, the Myanmar army launched a second offensive on Sunday in Sagaing province against various Indian militant groups, including ULFA, who have their bases there.

Until Monday, there were reports of firing, said sources. Around 250 cadres of about 10 north-eastern militant groups, including Ulfa`s anti-talk faction, Nagaland`s NSCN, Manipur`s People`s Liberation Army (PLA), Prepak and UNLF, were present in camps at Sagaing in north Myanmar bordering India.

Sources said the militant outfits have sent about 200 armed cadres as reinforcement to Myanmar.

Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (north-east) of the home ministry, said, “We haven`t received any official information from the Myanmar government. We are not sure if there is any casualty or arrests.”

The Myanmar army launched its first attack on September 7. There are reports that Ulfa`s mobile headquarters at Sagaing was destroyed in the attack. Other N-E militant outfits also shared the facility.

Unconfirmed reports said Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah and S S Khaplang, the former chief of NSCN (K), managed to escape unhurt.

Baruah is believed to hiding somewhere in Myanmar. Besides Sagaing, Ulfa has three other camps in Myanmar.

To prove he was still alive and active, ULFA released a photograph of Baruah, which shows him squatting with a wireless communication device in his right hand and a gun in his left, wearing chappals and blue socks.

Some officials said the attack was the fallout of the mounting pressure on Myanmar by India. At several high-level meetings with Myanmar this year, Indian officials have urged its neighbour to flush out the India rebel outfits operating from its soil.

Despite the fact that Myanmar has been taking action against Indian insurgents in their territory, their continued presence there has made some Indian officials sceptical about the operations. “The Myanmar army had attacked north-east militant camps several times before. But, after some time the militants were again allowed to operate,” said an official.

In 2003, Bhutan`s Operation All Clear had dealt a body blow to Ulfa. The Royal Bhutan Army had destroyed at least 14 Ulfa camps in a military operation in Bhutan`s Samdrup Jongkhar.

A statement issued last Thursday by Ulfa faction led by Baruah said India has been urging all its neighbours to attack and destroy the outfit in return for money. “It is well known that India had given Bhutan Rs 1,000 crore in aid for the military operation,” the statement said. India also gave Bangladesh Rs $ 1 billion loan to act against Ulfa. “We have learnt that India has offered Rs 1,000 crore, if Myanmar can kill Ulfa commander-in-chief and other leaders,” it added.

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