In the biggest counter-insurgency operation carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s year-old government, the Indian army entered Myanmar to strike militants involved in an attack last week that killed 20 soldiers.
The operation, which started Tuesday morning, will continue in the coming days as several militant groups based in Myanmar have been active in India’s northeast, said an Indian army official with knowledge of the operation. He asked not to be identified as the information hasn’t been publicly disclosed.
Modi, whose Hindu-dominated party swept to power in May 2014, has pledged zero tolerance to acts of terror and border attacks on Indian forces. His government called off talks with Pakistan last year after its high commissioner to India sought to meet with Kashmiri separatists groups.
At an official briefing in New Delhi Tuesday, army officials said their strikes inflicted heavy casualties on the militants. The operation was launched based on intelligence of impending attacks on India, Major General Ranbir Singh told a news conference.
“We are in communication with the Myanmar authorities on this matter,” Singh said. “There is a history of close cooperation between two militaries. We look forward to working with them.”
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed on June 4 after their convoy came under gun fire in Manipur state. The attack was the worst single attack since 1982 in the country’s restive northeastern region, according the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
Modi has been engaging the South Asian neighbors including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan to counter militant activities in India. Modi visited Myanmar in November last year for the East Asia summit.
The Indian army is fighting militants in the country’s northeast and in the northern state of Kashmir, where locals protest the military’s presence. India and Pakistan have fought three of their four wars since partition in 1947 over Kashmir, which is divided between the two but claimed in full by both.