YANGON — Up to 12 Arakan Army camps were destroyed by the Tatmadaw in a coordinated operation with the Indian army that ended early this month, Indian publications have reported.
The operation targeting AA camps in Rakhine State near India’s Mizoram State came ahead of a Tatmadaw strike on the headquarters of a Naga rebel group in Sagaing Region, they reported.
“The operations – first of their kind in terms of deployment and covering areas all along the India-Myanmar border – went on for two weeks and ended on March 2,” news magazine India Today said on March 15.
A defence source in New Delhi said Indian troops did not cross the border, daily newspaper The Hindu reported on March 16.
The newspaper quoted the source as saying the Tatmadaw destroyed “10 to 12” AA camps “in the Rakhine area” near Mizoram’s Lawngtala District in the coordinated operation that began on February 17.
The Hindu said the operation was conducted because the presence of AA camps in the area posed a threat to the Kaladan multi-modal transit project to link Kolkata with Mizoram via Rakhine and Chin states using sea, river and road transport.
The ambitious project, on which India and Myanmar signed a framework agreement in 2008, includes a 109-kilometre road linking a port on the Kaladan River at Paletwa in Rakhine with Zorinpui on the Mizoram border.
“With intelligence assessments point [sic] to threats to the Kaladan Project, the Indian Army planned a mission to flush out insurgent groups that had set up bases south of Mizoram in Myanmar,” India Today reported.
“Large scale joint operations were launched by the Indian and Myanmar armies,” it said, with the AA camps bordering Mizoram targeted in the first phase and the headquarters of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang in the far north of Sagaing, in the second.
A security source in New Delhi was quoted as saying by India Today that planning for the coordinated operations started about two months before they were launched.
“A deal was cut out that after the action adjoining Mizoram the Myanmar army will hit the insurgent camps of other groups that have been targeting India,” the source said.
“This resulted in totally wiping out of Taga, the HQ of NSCN (K). Based on specific inputs provided by us the Myanmar Army hit these camps and is now occupying them,” the source added.
The reported operation against Arakan Army camps came amid a sharp escalation of fighting in Rakhine between the AA and the Tatmadaw that has claimed dozens of lives and displaced about 10,000 people.