Indian Army senior officer killed, soldiers hit by militants in North East India

Indian Army senior officer killed, soldiers hit by militants in North East India

NEW DELHI: An Indian army major and five suspected militants were killed in a gunfight in a remote northeastern Indian state close to the border with Myanmar, police said Wednesday.

The gunfight broke out late Tuesday after troops raided a militant hideout in the forests of Mon district in Nagaland state following an intelligence tip-off.

The militants lobbed grenades and fired with automatic rifles at the troops, triggering a nearly eight-hour gunfight.

“The officer was killed in the initial assault and two soldiers were injured. Five terrorists have been killed,” Nagaland police chief LL Doungel said.

Search operations are still on in the area to prevent militants from escaping to Myanmar, he said.

The guerrillas are suspected members of organisations that in turn are part of a broad mix of militant groups in the northeast fighting against Indian rule.

The United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia is based in Myanmar and its militants are active in most of the seven northeastern states.

It was blamed for the 2015 attack on an army convoy in Manipur state that left 20 soldiers dead, prompting India to carry-out strikes inside Myanmar against the rebels.

Northeast India, linked to the rest of the country by a narrow land corridor, has seen decades of unrest among ethnic and separatist groups.

The region is home to dozens of tribal groups and small guerrilla armies whose demands range from greater autonomy to secession from India.

Over the years the insurgency has waned across the region, with many groups striking deals with New Delhi for more powers.

At least 50,000 people have lost their lives in the conflicts since the first insurgency broke out in Manipur in the early 1950s.