SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 49, June 21, 2004
assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form
with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
Guest Writer: Ameen Izzadeen
Deputy Editor of the Colombo-based Sunday Times
The message was clear in Brussels when aid donors early
this month warned Sri Lanka that the country would lose
billions of dollars in aid if the peace process was not
The message was clear also from the rebel headquarters in
northern Sri Lanka, with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
warning the Sri Lanka Government of dire consequences and
a bloodbath if the interim administration it was seeking
was not forthcoming, and if the Government did not stop
collaborating with the breakaway LTTE faction led by 'Colonel'
However, the message, emanating from the Janadhipathi Mandiraya
(President's House), was ambiguous or indecisive, giving
rise to fears that the relative calm prevailing in the country
since the February 2002 ceasefire agreement could be shattered
Handicapped by its lack of majority in Parliament and politically
blackmailed by an anti-devolution and ultra-nationalist
ally, the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government
of President Chandrika Kumaratunga is in a proverbial Catch-22
The Government desperately needs the US $ 4.5 billion aid
package, which the donors pledged in Tokyo exactly one year
ago, to salvage a sinking economy that has been badly hit
by high oil prices and the fast-depreciating rupee.
To get the aid, the peace process needs to be revived. To
revive the peace process, the Government has to agree to
the LTTE condition that talks must focus only on the Interim
Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) for the North-East, and
the Government must abandon its rider that parallel talks
should also be held on the final solution to the 21-year
ethnic conflict. If the President says okay to the LTTE
condition, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which accounts
for one-third of the UPFA's strength in Parliament, has
warned that it would leave the alliance.
It is this picture of no-war-no-peace that looms large over
the country and it is against such a backdrop that President
Kumaratunga invited a delegation of the LTTE-backed Ilankai
Tamil Arasu Katchi, popularly known as the Tamil National
Alliance (TNA), for a crucial meeting on June 10.
The Tamil MPs, obviously attending with LTTE approval, stuck
to their guns and thought they had extracted what they wanted.
President Kumaratunga reportedly told them that she would
study ways of bypassing Parliament and use her constitutional
powers to meet the LTTE demand for an ISGA and agreed to
defer the talks on the final solution - a major breakthrough
Alas, it was not to be. On Saturday evening, the state TV
broadcast a pre-recorded policy statement by the President.
Apparently under pressure from hardliners within the ruling
alliance, the President again linked the talks on the ISGA
with talks on the final solution, in a speech marked by
The President's apparent backtracking coincided with a statement
posted on the LTTE peace secretariat website. It accused
the President of political duplicity and warned of consequences
that could lead to a bloodbath. The Government declined
to comment on the LTTE statement, saying it would only respond
to an official LTTE letter, and reiterated its unwavering
commitment to the peace process.
The main opposition United National Party (UNP), meanwhile
charged that the UPFA had endangered the peace process by
allowing internal contradictions within the ruling party
to derail policy and described the President as a bundle
Some observers say the President, who was flying out of
the country to London while the state TV was broadcasting
her address, is playing for time till the provincial elections
are held on July 10, to go ahead with a move that is not
so popular with the majority Sinhala people, and who went
along with the UPFA's claim that the previous Government
had conceded too much to the LTTE and voted the UNP out
of office in the April 2 general elections.
But the LTTE appears to mean business and it continues to
jolt the shaky truce, keeping the Scandinavian ceasefire
monitors busy. Mannar was tense on June 14 and 15 after
an attempt by the Army to search two female LTTE cadres
led to a near-confrontational situation. Tension is also
building up over the Navy's refusal to accede to the LTTE's
request for safe sea passage to transport cadres from Mullaitivu
to Verugal, the base from which the LTTE launched its offensive
against the breakaway Karuna faction fighters in April.
It is not only tension that is building up but also war-preparedness
by both sides. The LTTE continues to recruit child soldiers
while Air Force fighter planes have begun test flights.
What is more alarming are the occasional discoveries of
bombs in the city. Police on June 17 discovered the second
bomb in as many months containing the same type of explosives.
It is not clear as to who planted these bombs. The LTTE
could have done it in a bid to send a strong message to
the Government. The Government intelligence could have done
it to send a message to the hardliners to win their support
for peace moves - or even to the Tamils because, after the
detection of the second bomb near a school, the area was
cordoned off and scores of Tamils were arrested for questioning
in scenes reminiscent of the situation prior to the truce.
These may appear to be routine activities of a rebel group
and a Government, but given the powder-keg situation in
the country, they give the impression that both sides are
drifting away from peace.
It is perhaps such a perception that prompted donors who
met in Brussels to urge, in the strongest possible terms,
a rapid resumption of the peace negotiations and warn that
there should be no drift and no delay. "With so many other
demands on donors, the record pledge of US $ 4.5 billion
(or around 441 billion Sri Lankan rupees), may otherwise
go elsewhere," the donors, including the United States,
the European Union, Japan and Norway, warned.
Be that as it may, besides the July 10 provincial elections,
there are two other factors, which are contributing to the
slow approach of the UPFA Government to the resumption of
the peace talks - the Indian factor and the Karuna factor.
The Sri Lankan Government has been heartened by the positive
response it is receiving from India's new Congress-led Government.
The Manmohan Singh Government has given the green light
for an Indo-Lanka defence agreement, while it has expressed
its commitment to Sri Lanka's sovereignty, territorial integrity
and the search for a solution within a federal system that
would satisfy all sections of the people of Sri Lanka.
The thinking in Government and political circles in Colombo
is that the new Indian Government, though its Lanka policy
overtly is no different from its predecessor Vajpayee Government,
may act in a manner favourable to Sri Lanka, because of
the Congress Party's strained and blood-stained relationship
with the LTTE over the killing of former Prime Minister
The LTTE is not unaware of this. In an apparent move to
counter the Indian factor, the LTTE has turned to the international
donor community to apply pressure on the Government to accede
to the ISGA, which it sees not only as a de facto
autonomous political entity, but also as a mechanism to
gain full control of the Eastern Province.
Though the LTTE has militarily crushed the Karuna rebellion,
it is still not comfortable in the East - with Karuna's
men striking at will in what is seen as a guerrilla war
within a guerrilla war.
It is in this context that the Karuna factor assumes significance.
The LTTE alleges that the Karuna faction has a collaborative
relationship with the armed forces - a charge the Government
vehemently denies. However, it cannot be ruled out that
the Karuna faction would be in the Government's reckoning
in the event that hostilities break out.
The LTTE is getting increasingly restless over incidents
in the Eastern province where two prominent supporters of
the Wanni leadership were killed by suspected Karuna faction
members in the last week of May 2004. The two sides have
also launched a propaganda war that has extended to the
worldwide web as well, with a pro-Karuna group launching
website to counter numerous pro-Prabhakaran websites. As
in any other war, truth appears to be the first casualty.
A good example are the recent reports about scores of pro-Prabhakaran
cadres being killed by the Karuna faction. These developments
are certainly indications that the LTTE is not as comfortable
as it used to be in the Eastern province.
In a statement issued following the cold-blooded killings
of Eastern University dean P. Thambiah on May 24, and journalist
Aiyathurai Nadesan on May 31, 2004, the LTTE issued an official
statement that cannot be dismissed as mere rhetoric. The
statement, which was the first of the hitherto-released
two official LTTE releases containing a warning after the
UPFA assumed office, said:
"Killing of intellectuals, journalists and friends
of Tamil people is abominable. Even during this time of
peace, anti-peace forces are engaged in barbaric activities.
These actions are bound to lead the people of this island
to a period of calamity and destruction. Sri Lanka security
forces and the militants who are assisting them must realise
A "period of calamity and destruction": the message is abundantly
clear - and was repeated on Sunday, June 13, when the LTTE
declared that the foundation for peace laid with international
assistance during the past three years would be shattered,
and Sri Lanka would again be subjected to a bloodbath. It
accused the President of duplicity and trickery to mislead
the donors and get the money so that she could wage war
Parallel to issuing warnings, the LTTE is also seeking direct
aid from UN agencies and international non-governmental
organizations for rehabilitation and reconstruction work
in the war-ravaged North and East, with its planning and
development secretariat functioning as the pivotal body.
There is a warning to the Government in this move as well.
If the Government delays the setting up of the ISGA, which
the LTTE ostensibly needs to facilitate the rehabilitation
and reconstruction process, the LTTE will resort to mechanisms
and devices of its choice to get the donor funds.
Amidst these threats, Sri Lanka epitomizes what constitutes
a stalemate in every sphere. There is a stalemate at the
peace front. There is a stalemate in Parliament, which has
seen no bills but only blows since April. There is a stalemate
in the economy, which is slowly losing the steam that it
derived during the two-year investor-friendly and pro-peace
The never-say-die Norwegian facilitators, in the meantime,
have intensified efforts to keep the peace flame alive with
shuttle diplomatic missions to Colombo, London and New Delhi.
Andhra Pradesh: Another Throw of the Dice
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
The ongoing cease-fire between the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Government
and the Left Wing extremist (also called Naxalites) of the People's
War Group (PWG)
raises a number of questions. The PWG has remained unwavering
in its ideological commitment to 'class annihilation', to capturing
power through revolutionary warfare on the Maoist pattern, and
in its rejection of Parliamentary democracy. This strategy entails
building up of bases in rural and remote areas and transforming
them, first, into 'guerrilla zones', and then into 'liberated
zones', even as an area-wise seizure is consolidated, and cities
are 'encircled'. Within the theoretical constructs of its 'people's
war' strategy, as well as the PWG's past practices, moreover,
negotiations have been used as a tactic and opportunity for recovery,
consolidation and expansion. Under the circumstances, it is not
clear what significant gains the State Government expects to secure
through a new phase of negotiations.
On June 16, 2004, officially, the AP government declared a three-month
ceasefire against the PWG, with immediate effect. It also accepted
the remaining three PWG proposals - constitution of a supervisory
committee, initial dialogue with mediators and final discussions
between ministerial representatives and PWG State committee representatives.
The official announcement came a day after the PWG state secretary,
Ramakrishna, had laid down conditions for taking any steps to
initiate talks with the Government. The Government and the political
parties have consistently appealed to the Naxalite groups, especially
the PWG, to shun violence and carry out their struggles as partners
in the democratic set up. But each time in the past, talks have
failed due to lack of faith between the negotiating parties and
because of PWG conditionalities.
The process of trying to seduce the PWG back into the 'mainstream'
has a long and futile history. N.T. Rama Rao initially adopted
a soft approach towards the Naxalites, describing them as desabhaktalu
(patriots) and annalu (elder brother) in 1982. The result
was that, during the 1983 Assembly election campaign, he secured
significant advantage as a result of Naxalite support to his party.
After the elections, the Naxalites were given free rein to consolidate
their activities, and there was a spectacular surge in their strength.
However, by 1985, a series of ambushes of police parties and official
convoys had made political accommodation impossible, as did the
PWG's escalating demands. A Special Task Force was established
and armed police posts were created in the worst-affected areas,
as the security forces were given a 'free hand' to deal with the
terrorists. By 1989, the Naxalites were in flight under sustained
security forces' pressure.
Relief came with elections, once again. The PWG had begun flirting
with the Marri Chenna Reddy led Congress-I during the elections
of 1989, and Chenna Reddy unilaterally withdrew all restrictions
on the activities of the PWG immediately after his Government
was sworn in. At this stage, the Naxalites had articulated three
conditions for talks: the freeing of all Naxalite prisoners who
had undergone long spells of incarceration without trial or conviction;
allowing freedom to the extremists to hold public meetings; and
restraining the police from interfering with the 'legitimate activities'
of all shades of Naxalites. No talks, however, commenced, though
relaxation of the state's pressure on the rebels continued. Once
again, the PWG took full advantage of the Government's 'soft approach',
consolidating its strength before its excesses forced Chenna Reddy's
successor N. Janardhan Reddy to re-impose the ban on the organization,
on May 21, 1992, by which time the Naxalites were virtually running
a parallel government in their areas of influence.
N. T. Rama Rao returned to power in 1994, setting into motion
another phase of the 'soft' policy against the Naxalites. In 1995,
the proscription on the PWG was relaxed for three months. A phase
of galloping consolidation for the PWG followed, as a new generation
of sophisticated arms, explosives and timing and triggering devices
became easily available. There was also an expansion of linkages
with other extremist organizations in the country, as well as
with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
in Sri Lanka, and the revolutionary communist parties in Nepal
and the Philippines. Linkages were also established with some
ideologically incompatible terrorist groups in India's Northeast.
The successor Chandrababu Naidu regime re-imposed the ban on the
PWG on July 22, 1996, and a policy of armed confrontation with
the rebels was re-established. Nevertheless, intense public pressure
and an Andhra Pradesh High Court order to initiate 'proper measures'
to contain the continuing violence compelled the outgoing Telugu
Desam Party (TDP) Government to invite the PWG for talks in January
2000. The PWG, however, turned down the Government's offer for
a dialogue, pointing out that talks could not be held as long
as the state continued its 'repression' of the 'mass movement'.
The peace process was brought back into focus in April 2001, once
again in the context of elections, this time, to the local bodies
in the State. The Committee of Concerned Citizens (CCC) on April
17, 2001, appealed to both the State Government and the PWG to
hammer out a plausible way for unconditional talks. In turn, the
PWG leadership had responded through a public statement that proposed
five conditions for holding talks with the AP Government, including,
inter alia, a lifting of the ban on the group and action
against officials involved in alleged 'fake encounters'. Responding
to the PWG's charter of demands, the then TDP Chief Minister Chandrababu
Naidu - now in his second tenure - ruled out prospects of holding
talks with the PWG unless the outfit was ready to give up arms.
Subsequent efforts by the same Government, were, however, initiated
on January 28, 2002, when the police were instructed not to resort
to "unwanted and unnecessary action" against the PWG. The Naxalites
reciprocated by declaring a unilateral ceasefire. The Government
made an offer of talks, and the PWG named revolutionary writer
P. Varavara Rao, and balladeer Gaddar as its representatives in
preliminary negotiations to determine the modalities for holding
talks. The group also suggested that the CCC, headed by S.R. Sankaran,
should act as observer during the talks. The peace process, however,
received a jolt when four Naxalites of the PWG were killed in
an encounter at Narella village, Karimnagar, while the talks were
on. The PWG set a deadline of July 20, 2002, for the Government
to announce a cease-fire, a demand that was rejected by Chandrababu
Naidu, who declared that those violating the law would be dealt
with resolutely. The Government also alleged that the Naxalites
had been using the talks as a 'smokescreen' for expanding their
This, then, has been a regular pattern: the PWG has used the 'peace
process' and periods of 'cease-fire' as opportunities to consolidate
its position and expand its bases into new areas, and this has
particularly been the case when it comes under pressure. Recent
years have seen a massive expansion of the Naxalite movement,
both within Andhra Pradesh, and in other States, through consolidation
of the PWG's activities, as well as alliances with ideologically
compatible partners. However, the PWG has been significantly weakened
within its own traditional area of domination. In several villages
in north Telengana, long considered PWG strongholds, its dalams
(armed squads) have suffered badly as a result of frequent police
action, and cadres have surrendered in large numbers. There has
also been a thrust on development and people's participatory activity,
which has helped in neutralizing the Naxalites' influence on villagers.
The current ceasefire and soft approach in Andhra Pradesh will
have necessary and serious repercussions in neighboring Orissa
and other States. The PWG has long worked to consolidate its position
in Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) areas,
and, with some relief within AP can be expected to divert significantly
greater energies to Orissa. Other States, which may be more or
less affected include Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The Naxalite problem cannot be treated as a problem of a particular
State or region alone. The Naxalite presence has already reached
disturbing proportions in nine states, where they seek to establish
a 'Compact Revolutionary Zone' (CRZ) extending from Nepal through
Bihar and the Dandakaranya region to Andhra Pradesh. Apart from
their traditional strongholds, there has been a significant expansion
of Naxalite activities into new areas such as North Bihar, North
Orissa, central Chhattisgarh and eastern Uttar Pradesh. A ceasefire
in AP, far from solving the problem, may, in fact, compound it
further, creating opportunities for further extension of the 'people's
These difficulties notwithstanding, the AP 'peace process' appears
to have set a trend in motion, with the Jharkhand Government also
offering a unilateral cease-fire with the PWG on June 19, 2004.
The PWG's response, in this case, was a list of demands, including
the immediate removal of paramilitary forces from extremist strongholds,
investigation of alleged 'fake encounters' and the lodging of
criminal cases against the guilty, withdrawal of all Prevention
of Terrorism Act (POTA)
cases against cadres, and lifting of the ban on the PWG - a combination
of demands that the State Government would find nigh impossible
There is, today, an overwhelming need for a consolidated approach
to the Naxalite problem, which extends across a number of States.
Piecemeal efforts to solve the problem through negotiations in
the past have only helped entrench the movement further. This
danger needs to be recognized before another ill-conceived political
gambit creates additional spaces for further Naxalite expansion.
While talks with the extremists need not be entirely ruled out,
it is necessary for such talks to be coordinated across States
so that a permanent solution is at least visible - however improbable
it may be. At present, negotiations are, at best, no more than
an interregnum in the rising graph of extreme Left Wing violence.
Guest Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam
Editor, Imphal Free Press
Amidst the din of the preparation for the recently concluded Parliamentary
elections, a quite development was taking place in the Sajik Tampak
area of Chandel district, bordering Myanmar, in Manipur. This
stretch of territory had come to be locally referred to as a "liberated
zone" for various underground organizations, most prominently
the United National Liberation Front (UNLF),
the Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) and the People's Revolutionary
Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK).
A year ago, militant morale was at an all time high when they
successfully repelled a frontal assault by a large column of the
Border Security Force (BSF) at Sajik Tampak.
Under cover of the preparations for elections, long convoys of
fresh Army troops arrived in April-May 2004, and headed straight
for Sajik Tampak, raising intense speculations that a military
operation was imminent. The official explanation of the troop
movement was 'election security', and this line was maintained
for a long time, even after it became known that an encounter,
with casualties in the Army, had taken place. Four soldiers, including
an officer of the 7 Sikh Light Regiment, who were among the first
troops to move into the Sajik Tampak, were killed in an ambush
by cadres of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)/RPF,
but the Army tried to keep even this information a secret, neither
denying nor confirming reports on the incident. No First Information
Report (FIR) regarding the deaths was lodged with the police.
The postmortem was carried out at a civil hospital under close
guard against the media glare late in the evening, and it was
only after a week that the Army finally confirmed the fatalities.
In the meanwhile, a brigade (44th Mountain Brigade) had been deployed in the area. Over the succeeding days, though no major operations were conducted, the militants were pushed further into the interiors and area domination by the Army was complete. There have been no further casualties on either side, but the standoff so far has not been without a price. Many villagers from the total of 21 Kuki and Zou villages in the area have fled for fear of being caught in the crossfire. The Army has also restricted their movements, controlled their ration purchases so that none is passed on to the underground cadres, and some school buildings have also been converted into barracks, making many human rights organizations cry foul.
Contrary to wide media speculations, there is still no sign that there will be any large-scale military operations in the Sajik Tampak area. The Army brigade for the moment seems satisfied simply squatting at three strategic locations, a battalion each at Sugnu and Chakpikarong in the vicinity of Sajik Tampak and the third at Sajik Tampak itself, with field guns positioned towards possible insurgent concentrations. Villagers reported consistent pounding in the initial days of the Army's arrival, but today this has stopped and has subsequently been replaced by military public relations exercises, such free medical camps for the villagers, and organizing periodic conducted tours for media personnel, national and local.
The Army's reluctance to go ahead with a flush-out operation seems
to be on account of two factors. One, it lost the element of surprise
that it obviously was looking for when it entered the area on
the pretext of election security. Two, without active cooperation
from Myanmar, it would be futile to chase the militants, who have
in any case by now already either dispersed or receded deeper
towards the porous international border. Unlike the Army, the
militants can easily slip in and out of Myanmar, making it practically
impossible to corner them. The much-needed cooperation from Myanmar's
military junta has either not been forthcoming, or, perhaps,
the Indian Government is reluctant to be seen as too close to
the military Government, and this is stalling the process. The
pressure to remain aloof from the Myanmar military regime would
be significant in view of the fact that the Western powers, particularly
the European Union, openly align themselves with the pro-democracy
leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. The Straffan
summit in Ireland, where terms for cooperation between the EU
and ASEAN, Japan, South Korea and China, were being thrashed out
at about the time the military buildup was taking place in and
around Sajik Tampak, made this adequately clear. Should the international
community manage to force a democratic election in Myanmar, the
overwhelming chances are, the military junta's opponent,
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, NLD, would come to power.
The long-term implications of a possible geopolitical shift in
the region are too large to be summarized here, but its most immediate
outcome may just be what has been witnessed at Sajik Tampak. Much
as New Delhi may want a Bhutan-type operation there, it has been
forced to rethink. If a regime change becomes imminent in Myanmar,
it may not be prudent foreign policy to be seen to befriend the
military junta too much.
For the moment, the Government will have to rest content with tackling the insurgents on its own. The strategy seems to be for the military to occupy the erstwhile militant stronghold, forcing them to disperse, and then catch them where they are most vulnerable. It is hardly likely to be a coincidence that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was extended for another year, not long after the Army moved into the Sajik Tampak area. There has also been a sudden spurt in controversial arrests by the Army under the Act, as well as the killing of militant suspects all over the Valley districts, allegedly in encounters and attempted escapes.
For many in insurgency-torn Manipur today, normal day-to-day life has, indeed, been reduced to a multiple nightmare.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts
in South Asia
data compiled from English language media sources.
camps in Pakistan
of some recently
in Jammu and Kashmir
of wireless messages
camps have re-opened
in Pakistan occupied
including in the
(NA). A 30-page
Union Home Ministry
that the largest
camp was in the
area where nearly
followed by Elaq-e-Gher
where 200 terrorists
were being trained.
Camps in the North
Province of Pakistan
and the Gilgit
area in NA had
of a full-fledged
centre of the
in Lipa valley,
the report said.
The camps in Mansera
and Haripur, which
had been closed
after the US-led
the Taliban and
Al Qaeda in Afghanistan,
have also been
June 21, 2004.
On June 16, 2004,
the Andhra Pradesh
the Left Wing
of the People's
War Group (PWG).
K. Jana Reddy
said in Hyderabad
that the Government
a ceasefire for
response to the
made by the PWG.
With regard to
of a supervisory
and PWG 'State
- "they are acceptable
to the government,"
he added. The
also said the
to make a suggestion
to the Naxalites
not to move around
in villages with
arms. "We are
movement of armed
Naxalites in villages.
We appeal to them
not to do so,"
June 17, 2004.
denies Assam Chief
of possible dialogue:
Assam Chief Minister
Tarun Gogoi in
an interview to
the Press Trust
of India on June
16, 2004, said
that the outlawed
Front of Asom
has shown the
of coming to the
to solve the insurgency
was quoted as
having said, "Somebody
has come forward.
It is a good sign
and we are hopeful
of a new beginning…
We have always
been asking them
to come for talks
and it is a very
good sign that
they have responded."
The Chief Minister,
however, did not
on the possible
in a telephonic
as being baseless.
He said that neither
the State Government
nor his outfit
have had any contact
for starting a
He also claimed
that a solution
to the problem
can emerge only
through a "process
June 17, 2004.
killed and 1,269
abducted by terrorists
during five years
in Tripura, states
to a question
in the State Legislative
Assembly on June
15, 2004, disclosed
that more than
952 people had
been killed and
over 1,200 people
abducted by terrorists
in Tripura during
the last five
years. He also
said that more
than 633 people
were injured and
111 houses set
ablaze by the
the period. During
the same period,
a total of 179
to different outfits
were killed while
836 of them surrendered
and 858 were arrested.
June 19, 2004.
36 security force personnel
killed in two incidents: At
least 36 security force personnel
are reported to have died in two
incidents of violence carried
out by the Maoists during the
past week. 14 Armed Police Force
officials and four civilians were
killed and 27 people sustained
injuries when Maoist insurgents
attacked a security patrol at
Dhankhola in the Dang district
on June 19, 2004. Earlier, at
least 22 security force personnel
died and 16 others sustained injuries
in a landmine explosion followed
by an ambush carried out by the
insurgents at Khairikhola in the
Banke district on June 14-morning.
The troops were heading for patrolling
duties towards the APF Base Camp
from Shamshergunj in four vehicles
when the landmine planted near
Khairikhola in the Shamshergunj-Kusum
section exploded. Nepalnews,
June 20, 2004.
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