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Bhutan denies prince injured in army offensive

Sukhendu Bhattacharya in Samdrup Jongkhar (Bhutan) | December 21, 2003 16:11 IST
Last Updated: December 21, 2003 19:01 IST

The Bhutanese government on Sunday denied reports that Prince Jigyel Wangchuck was injured in the current operations to evict militants from the southern part of the country.

Government spokesman Yeshey Dorjee told a visiting PTI correspondent that the Prince was neither wounded nor in the frontline of the offensives. The Prince "was only part of a group of civilians who volunteered to guard and provide security at vital installations and not of the army."

The Prince had left his studies in Oxford midway to join his father in uprooting the ULFA, NDFB and KLO militants who had illegally set up camps in Bhutan since the past 12 years.

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King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who is the supreme commander of the army, is overseeing 'Operation All Clear' in Samdrup Jongkhar district, Bhutan government spokesman Yeshey Dorjee told a visiting PTI correspondent.

"The operations are on in full swing in south Bhutan jungles where the insurgents are concentrated and their 30 standing camps have been totally demolished. There are no more camps. The RBA at present is concentrating on flushing out the ultras who have dispersed into the jungles after their camps were destroyed," Dorjee said.

There will be no let up in RBA operations and will continue till the country was free of the militants, he said. The operation, launched on December 15, entered its seventh day on Sunday.

"It is not easy to put a timeframe to these kind of offensives as the RBA itself would not be able to predict how long it would take to drive out the 3,000 ultras holed up in Bhutan," Dorjee said.

The King would subsequently travel to all parts of his Himalayan kingdom to personally supervise the army offensive to flush out the Indian insurgents from his country, he said.

Bhutan government sources in Samdrup Jongkhar said over 160 insurgents from the three outfits had either been captured or had surrendered, while another 120 had been killed in the operation.

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