TODAY -
Ops Summer Storm : Eight confirmed killed, claims Army
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, April 13 2009: In continued Army operation, code named Summer Storm, in Loktak lake which is still under siege with even the staff of the Forest Department barred from entering Keibul Lamjao National Park to assess possible damage to the home of the endangered Sangai species (Cervus Eldi Eldi), three (four as per the claim of Army PRO) more suspected underground activists were reportedly gunned down in an early morning swoop today.

Yesterday, one suspected underground activist was killed in the operation.



Army men at Loktak under Operation Summer Storm


Army PRO in a statement today claimed that so far eight militants have been confirmed killed and added that three more bodies have been spotted in the lake during a recce by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) .

The PRO said that the troops had to suspend firing for a while during the course of the operation as they saw a woman along with a child.

The woman has been identified as the wife of a S/S Sgt Maj of PREPAK Suresh Kumar, claimed the PRO.

The woman and the child are safe and sound.

Stating that troops of 73 Brigade are still continuing the operation, code named Operation Summer Storm, the PRO claimed that another camp was busted at 4.30 pm today.

According to local sources, Army personnel are still present in the surrounding villages of the National Park which has been under siege since the intervening night of April 11 and 12 .

A team of mediapersons from Imphal which had visited Kumbi, Ithai Wapokpi, Nongmaikhong and Khordak today also witnessed signs of Army still surrounding the National Park even as troops were seen keeping close vigil atop the watch tower at Nongmaikhong.

On the other hand, the staff of the Forest Department who have expressed concern over the fate of the Sangai following the gun battle and bombing raids of the suspected hideouts of the UGs inside the park have been reportedly given cold the shoulder treatment by officials of the 7 Assam Rifles which has set up a temporary camp at the Inspection Bungalow (IB) located at Keibul Chingmei.

An official of the Forest Department said prior to the operation no infomation had been given and access is being denied till today.

It is learnt that the troops of 7 Assam Rifles set up their temporary camp at the IB since March 3 along with opening up of a range office from there.

Under this range office, check posts have also been established at various places like Chingmei Natal, Thangbren, Keibul Sagram, Khodangkhong, Laphupat Tera and Khordak.

Leaders of social organisations and Meira Paibi bodies of Keibul Lamjao, Kumbi and Nongmaikhong who interacted with the visiting media team suspected possible casualties on Sangai population in the only world famous floating National Park as a result of the ongoing bombing and firings.

Over and above this, they informed that continued siege of the Army has given a serious impact on the livelihood of villagers who depend on fishing activities in the lake.

They also fervently appealed to the UGs to stay away from the lake as well as to the Government for taking up necessary steps to ensure normalcy in the area without waiting for the poor villagers to agitate.

A statement issued by the Human Rights Initiative has also called upon both the security forces and the armed UGs to respect Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as well as the Common Article 3 related to International Humanitarian Law of the Geneva Convention during the course of the ongoing operation at Loktak lake.

No collateral damage should also be caused to Sangai and its habitat, it added.

In the meantime, three more suspected underground activists have been reportedly killed by the troops of 7 Assam Rifles during an encounter which took place at Khordak Mayai Leikai, eastern side of the lake at around 3 am today.

However, the report of the 7 Assam Rifles furnished to the police in connection with the incident, said that the encounter broke out in the wee hours of April 12 .

However, when the media team visited Khordak today, the villagers informed that apart from hearing sounds of gun firing and bomb explosion at around 3 am, AR troops were seen bringing about three bodies at around 10 am today.

Sound of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying in the night sky and helicopter in the morning were also heard, the villagers added.

The report of the AR furnished the police further listed recovery of one AK-47 Rifles and magazine loaded with 10 live rounds of ammunition, two 9 mm pistol with 10 live rounds of ammunition from the possession of the three slain UG suspects.

Along with these three bodies, the body of another UG suspect who was shot dead by the 21st Para-troopers at Ungamen Pat during the operation yesterday have been deposited at the mortuary of RIMS Hospital after being picked by the Kumbi Police.

Police sources said that the identity of all the four slain UG suspects have not yet been able to confirm.

Although troops of 4.8 GR and 7 Assam Rifles were also part of the operation yesterday, the report submitted to the police only stated that the suspected UG cadre was killed by 21st Para-troopers at an encounter at Nongmaikhong Pat at around 2 am.

However, according to local sources there is no Nongmaikhong Pat (lake) in the area though there is Nongmaikhong village.


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