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ULFA opens camps in Myanmar

The United Liberation Front of Asom has opened camps in Myanmar besides retaining its camps in Bangladesh and Bhutan, according to Lieutenant General R K Sawhney.

General Sawhney, chief of the Unified Command which combats terrorism in Assam, revealed that there were at least two or three ULFA camps in Myanmar. These camps are being used as transit points to transport arms from South East Asia to Assam.

Military intelligence officers present at the briefing confirmed that ULFA still has camps inside Bangladesh, although there were reports earlier that these bases were moved to Bhutan.

The general said there were about 20 camps inside Bhutan sheltering about 2,500 ULFA activists. The camps, General Sawhney added, had good training facilities and are beyond the army's striking range.

The general, however, denied that army commandos had entered Bhutan to attack these camps. "We cannot do that nor have we done that," he said.

With the end of the North-East monsoon, the army is all set to launch a major offensive against the extremists. The monsoon, the general said, hobbles anti-insurgency operations in the Indo-Bhutan area which are covered with some of the most dense forest cover in South Asia.

Senior divisional commanders alleged that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence directorate was controlling ULFA's activities from Dhaka. "This is a known fact and there is hard evidence also," the army officers asserted.

"It is the ISI which arranges hawala transactions for ULFA to buy arms from the South East Asian market. The consignments are offloaded at Teknaf on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border and then taken to Myanmar with the help of the Arakan National Army. It then enters India through Aizawl," they added.

The commanders also revealed that part of the consignments are routed to the LTTE; some of the weapons even find its way to Northern India. "This is a cottage industry in Myanmar. We have hard evidence of arms supply. The LTTE is clearly a beneficiary of the arms movement."

Lt Gen Sawhney said it was not possible to seal the 400-km-long Indo-Bhutan border to prevent ULFA cadres from returning to India. He, however, felt ULFA was swiftly losing its clout in Assam. Thirty ULFA members have been killed in the last two months.


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