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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 10:22 GMT
Indian rebels deny base captured
Indian guards on the Manipur-Burma border
The Burma border is the main route for rebel supplies

Separatist rebels in the Indian state of Manipur have denied that Indian border police have taken over their headquarters.

A spokesman for the outlawed Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF) said Indian Border Security Force (BSF) troops had not manage to get beyond what he described as their forward defence post.

Manipur map
The BSF had earlier said it had overrun the rebel base in a remote hill region bordering Burma - but are now saying the situation is still fluid.

The MPLF spokesman told the BBC that their fighters had managed to repeatedly repulse the BSF attacks at their so-called forward defence post in Molnom village in the Sajit Tampak area.

He said eight border guards were killed, 20 were injured and claimed the rebels had suffered no casualties.

Armed patrol on the streets in Manipur's state capital, Imphal
Over 10,000 have died in the two-decade insurgency
The rebel spokesman said the BSF was not allowing local journalists or even the state police personnel to enter the area because the situation was fluid and the BSF was trying to mobilise more troops to launch fresh attacks.

Local journalists, quoting village leaders in the area, say the rebels have held on to much of their base area and the BSF has only managed to take control of some of the lower reaches around Sajit Tampak.

Indian operation

The BSF offensive against the headquarters of the MPLF started on Wednesday and border guard officials said on Friday that they had taken Sajit Tampak.

They said they had suffered six casualties, including a captain, against five casualties of the MPLF.

The BSF chief in Manipur, PK Mishra, however, said the rebels still dominated some of the hills around Sajit Tampak.

Alhough his troops would try to flush them out, they would not chase the rebels into Burma, he said.

In another incident, the MPLF attacked six outposts belonging to various Indian security forces and ambushed two convoys - a sign that they still retained the ability to strike at targets in the Imphal valley area.

Three border guards, the MPLF spokesman said, were killed in these attacks and several others were injured.

He said the MPLF had encircled a retreating BSF column at Pardai village but the border guards managed to break through the cordon taking advantage of the heavy early morning fog.

See also:

10 Jan 03 | South Asia
10 Jan 03 | South Asia
08 Dec 02 | South Asia
13 Jun 02 | South Asia
23 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Feb 02 | South Asia
19 Jun 01 | South Asia
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