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Militants walked back to Myanmar after Paraolon ambush
Source: The Sangai Express / Courtesy - The Hindu

New Delhi, February 25 2018: Three years after an Indian Army convoy was ambushed in Manipur's Chandel district where 18 personnel were killed, investigators have, for the first time, stitched together a detailed account of the attack.

One of the militants involved, who was arrested last month, told investigators that the group was in India for five days after the attack, before they crossed over to Myanmar on foot.

Naorem Premkanta Singh, 31, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in January when he came to visit his family in Manipur.

He said the party moved together and were able to escape even though an Army helicopter hovered above to look for the suspects.

Singh's interrogation details, accessed by The Hindu, says that the attack was carried out jointly by Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K).

On Friday, another accused who was part of the ambush team, Moirangthem Nimaichand Meitei (22), a resident of Bishnupur in Manipur, was arrested by NIA from India-Myanmar border.

India had accused the NSCN-K of unilaterally abrogating an existing ceasefire agreement in March 2015.Singh told NIA that the attack on the Army convoy was in retaliation to the resulting crackdown on NSCN-K by India.

Several insurgent groups active in the North East run their camps from Myanmar.

India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km adjoining Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km) and permit a 'free movement' regime up to 16 km across the border.

On June 4, 2015, 18 personnel of 6 Dogra regiment were ambushed by a group of 20 militants.

The incident led to an outrage and within days the Special Forces launched an operation along the India-Myanmar border to flush out the militants.

While it is still not clear how many militants were killed in the operation, India maintains that they managed to destroy the insurgents' camps in Myanmar.

Singh told NIA that he had crossed over to Myanmar in 2006 after he failed to get a police job.

The militant outfit KYKL recruited him as a "cook" but he was given training to handle arms and ammunition.

He said it took two hours to reach the KYKL camp at Thongren, around 40 km from Moreh on the India-Myanmar border.

Singh said he had been living in the camp since 2006 .

Planning for ambush On June 2, 2015, Singh and a few others moved in autorickshaws and reached a cemetery close to India's border.

"A party of 10 cadres was already waiting.

We were asked to don our uniforms and were given weapons.

Our leader, Tamba, asked us to follow him and we were not briefed here.

We marched towards India," Singh said.

The party crossed the International Border from Munnan village.

"It was a hilly track but not difficult to walk.

We walked the whole night and took only 5-10 minutes ofbreak after every one hour of walk.

We rested on June 3 to avoid detection," he said.

Cadres photographed .

Four squads of five members each were formed and around 3 am on June 4, the cadres were informed that there would be an ambush on an Army convoy.

The cadres were photographed before the ambush.

"Tamba told us that he would be the first one to fire.

A pressure cooker IED was planted on the road.

Around 9 am, four army vehicles approached the road.

A grenade was lobbed at the first vehicle from Tengnoupal side where Tamba had taken position.

Then we all fired simultaneously non-stop for a few minutes.

The Army fired mortar shells.

We ran towards Myanmar through the jungle.

We could not take away any army weapons," he said.

Escape to Myanmar Singh said that they walked continuously from June 4 to 7, taking only short breaks.

"During this time, an Army helicopter continuously hovered above the terrain and we were afraid we would give away our location.

On June 8, we reached somewhere close to the border and on June 9 we crossed over to Myanmar from the same village from where we entered India.

We reached the same cemetery where he had assembled first.

Five cadres of KCP and KYKL waited for us and congratulated us.

They took away the uniforms and weapons." Singh told the NIA.


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