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Bhutan army seizes arms from fleeing ultras

Sukhendu Bhattacharya in Panery (Indo-Bhutan border) | December 23, 2003 02:23 IST

Continuing the offensive against insurgents from India's Northeast, Bhutan's army has seized a huge cache of arms from the fleeing militants.

As per a list given by the Bhutanese government to its Indian counterpart, more than 700 weapons had so far been seized from 30 camps of the ULFA, NDFB and KLO during the over-a-week-long operation to flush the militants out of the Himalayan kingdom.

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According to sources, as many as 500 AK-47 rifles, over 100 pistols and other sophisticated weapons such as anti-aircraft guns, 60mm mortars and Self Loading Rifles besides 230,000 rounds of ammunition were seized.

Though the exact number of casualties is not known, an estimated 160 militants are believed to have been killed since December 13. Most were reportedly fresh recruits in their late teens or early 20s, the sources said.

After being chased away from Bhutan, three NDFB ultras - Binesh Daimary, Raju Mushahary and Pradeep Ramchiary - surrendered to the Indian Army and deposited one rifle, one Chinese grenade and one magazine at Nalbari in Assam.

The RBA is cordoning off the thick jungles in the eastern side of south Bhutan inn pursuit of the fleeing militants.

Meanwhile, Bhutan's government has reportedly written to its Indian counterpart about the last meeting it had with ULFA leaders on November 22-23 when the militants were requested to leave the country. The ULFA was represented by 'foreign secretary' Sasha Choudhury, Asanta Baghphukan and ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain, the sources said.

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