Indian Army chief visits Imphal

Imphal, June 5 (IANS) The Indian Army chief, Gen. Dalbir Singh, arrived here on Friday, a day after militants ambushed and killed 18 soldiers.

Defence ministry spokesman Lt. Col. S. Newton said in Guwahati that the army chief was expected to visit Chandel district where the Dogra Regiment soldiers were killed on Thursday morning.

The army, which had launched a combing operation in the area immediately after the attack, will now intensify anti-terror operations in the area.

Naga rebel outfit NSCN-K has claimed responsibility for the attack in which a convoy of army vehicles was attacked with advanced weapons including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). The militants, estimated to be around 50, also opened heavy fire at the convoy.

In a statement issued to the media on Thursday evening, the NSCN-K said: “An elite strike unit of Naga Army, Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) and the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) carried out the ambush today (Thursday).”

The Army said the first vehicle of the convoy was attacked with a RPG, and had maximum casualties.

The militants, according to reports, fled into Myanmar after the attack.

Unlike the Indian boundary with Pakistan and Bangladesh, India and Myanmar share an unfenced 1,643 km border and permit a ‘free movement’ regime upto 16 km across on either side.

The attack was the worst on army in more than three decades.

Those injured were air-lifted to Leimakhong military hospital near Imphal, while a reinforcement party was rushed to the spot for combing operations.

There has lately been a surge in such attacks in the northeast.

On April 2, three soldiers were killed in an ambush by NSCN-K in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap district.

On May 3, seven Assam Rifles troopers and a Territorial Army soldier were killed in another ambush in Nagaland’s Mon district by militants of the newly-floated United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia comprising NSCN-K, ULFA, Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and NDFB-Songbijit.

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