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India on Monday arrested a rebel leader allegedly involved in the killing of 20 soldiers in the northeastern state of Manipur earlier in June, according to an official statement.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) captured Khumlo Abi Anal of the separatist National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) on 29 June, more than three weeks after heavily armed rebels ambushed a military convoy.
“Investigations have revealed that the accused was extensively involved in the conspiracy to attack the army personnel,” the agency said in a statement late on Monday, adding it was their first arrest in the case.
A week after the incident on 4 June, one of the deadliest attacks in the restive region, New Delhi said its forces had hunted down a rebel group operating in the mountainous forests of Manipur, close to Burma’s long western border.
Local Indian press cited sources as saying soldiers had crossed into Burma and killed some 15 militants who escaped across the border, after coordination between the two countries.
But Burma later denied the reports, saying it would not tolerate rebels using its soil to attack neighbours.
The remote Hindu-majority state of Manipur is home to dozens of tribal groups and small guerrilla armies fighting New Delhi’s rule, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.
At least 50,000 people have lost their lives in insurgency-driven violence in six of India’s seven northeastern states since the country’s independence from Britain in 1947, authorities say.
The seven states are home to dozens of guerilla and tribal groups, which often compete against each other.