Imphal, Jan 15: The Assam Rifles (AR) troops and the Army have claimed that they have succeeded in clearing about 700 sq km area of the Chandel district in Manipur and pushed out United National Liberation Front (UNLF) militants from the area.
The PRO of AR said here today that the Samtal Salient area, termed ''liberated zone'' by the UNLF for over a decade, is an area covering about 1,000 sq kms in the south-eastern tip of the state, with an open and porous international border with Myanmar to its East and South.
Operations in the area started since 1990. However, the UNLF had forced the withdrawal of the BSF post at Chamol and police posts in the Samtal area.
The GREF personnel, engaged in road construction from Moltuk to New Samtal, also had to abandon the area in 1995 as the engineers and other employees of the GREF were assaulted and threatened by the militants, the PRO added.
In December 2006, a major operation was launched against the UNLF by the troops of the IGAR(S) under HQ three Corps in which the Maukot, Sehao, Bailon, Semol, Khengjoi, Hengshi and Hollengjang areas were cleared and secured. Company Operating Bases were established in Khangbarol, Sehao, Khongjoi.
Operation SAMTAL-II was launched on November 18, 2007, by troops of HQ IGAR (South) and HQ three Corps.
''This well planned offensive along Khengjoi and Sehlon Ridge line has finally brought an end to the presence of the UNLF and its camps in the area, besides providing relief to the villagers of Samtal,'' the PRO said.
''In the Operation SAMTAL-II so far, the AR and Army have cleared about 700 sq km of the region upto New Samtal, providing relief to 19 villages of this region. Five camps have been busted and 14 ultras confirmed killed, besides many more being injured,'' the PRO said.
Huge quantity of arms and ammunition and rations had also been recovered from these camps and 198 IEDs had been detonated till date.
Recently, the New Samtal, New Lajang and the UNLF HQ areas were raided. The Lajang HQ and the location of SS Lt Col Pathao was overrun and all infrastructure, field fortification and barracks built by the militants were destroyed and over 30 IEDs were detonated.
''The Samtal Salient area has been cleared and secured by the Assam Rifles and the Army from the clutches of UNLF,'' the PRO said, adding that the villagers were eagerly looking forward to the development of the region and establishment of administration and law and order in the region.