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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 11:13 GMT
Indian troops 'take rebel base'
Indian guards on the Manipur-Burma border
The Burma border is the main route for rebel supplies
Indian border guards say they have overrun a major separatist base in the country's north-eastern state of Manipur after three days of heavy fighting.

Five border guards and four rebels died in the battle that began on Wednesday in the remote jungles bordering Burma.

Twelve guards of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and a large number of rebels sustained injuries.

Border patrols sent from the base at Sajit Tampak were on Friday still coming under fire from rebels of the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF).

The BSF says it is planning helicopter drops to supply the base in the state's Chandel district but admits logistics will be difficult given the remote location.

Blow to morale

BSF officials say if they can retain this base, the rebels will lose one of their major routes of movement and weapons supply from Burma.

BBC correspondent in Calcutta, Subir Bhaumik, says the loss of Sajit Tampak, the general headquarters of the MPLF, will affect the morale of the rebels.

Armed patrol on the streets in Manipur's state capital, Imphal
Over 10,000 have died in the two-decade insurgency
The BSF used 700 troops in the attack on the camp and faced stiff rebel resistance, with exchanges of rockets, grenades and machine-gun fire.

The MPLF is an umbrella organisation of three separatist groups - the United National Liberation Front, the People's Liberation Army, and the People's Republican Army of Kangleipak.

There are more than 19 separatist groups operating in Manipur, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.

More than 10,000 people have lost their lives in the insurgency in the past two decades.

See also:

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