India’s army entered Myanmar to strike militants involved in an attack last week that killed 20 soldiers, the biggest counter-insurgency operation carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s year-old government.
The offensive, 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.
The attacks took place in two locations on the borders of Nagaland and Manipur, both states in northeast India, Major General Ranbir Singh told a news conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. India has been in touch with Myanmar authorities over the operation, he said.
“There is a history of close cooperation between two militaries,” Singh said, adding that India acted due to intelligence of impending attacks. “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 incident was the worst single attack since 1982 in the country’s northeastern region, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
India’s northeast, including Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, are home to dozens of rebel groups fighting for autonomy, including National Socialist Council of Nagaland -- Khaplang. The rebels have set up camps in border areas of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
About 20 Indian troops and 212 civilians were killed in the region last year, according to the Home Ministry. The government has deployed army and paramilitary forces and sought to negotiate with the rebel groups to stem the violence.
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 separatist groups.
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.