TNN | Feb 20, 2011, 11.08pm IST
KOKRAJHAR/GUWAHATI: Even as Bhutan has been refuting that its territory is being used by militants from India's northeast, the recent attack on Bhutanese security personnel inside that country's territory by suspected NDFB (anti-talks) militants brought to the fore the fact that the Himalayan kingdom is still not immune to the activities of the outlawed armed group.
Though Bhutanese officials chose to remain tight-lipped on the matter, on Friday night, at least four Bhutanese personnel were injured when suspected NDFB militants ambushed a Bhutan police party between Sarpang and Gelephu road in Bhutan's Sarpang district bordering Kokrajhar district of Assam.
Kokrajhar police sources said the militants used sophisticated weapons like AK-47s when they ambushed a Bhutan police party. "At least four Bhutanese police personnel were injured in the ambush. We suspect it's the handiwork of the anti-talks NDFB militants," a police official said.
The attack came barely four days after suspected anti-talks NDFB released three volunteers of WWF-India at Balajan Tinali, about 7 km north of Kokrajhar town. Altogether, six volunteers, including three girls, were abducted by the militants of the outfit on February 6 from Ultapani area of Manas National Park. The kidnapped volunteers were kept hostage at a mobile camp of NDFB (anti-talk) inside Bhutan territory.
Last year, a Bhutanese armyman was shot dead by suspected NDFB (anti-talk) militants at Gabrukanda, west of Manas river inside Bhutan. In July last year, four SSB personnel including an assistant commander were ambushed and gunned down by the anti-talk NDFB faction in a forested area near Bhutan border in Chirang district. Sources said that after the killing of the SSB personnel, the militants sneaked into Bhutanese territory. "There are a number of mobile camps of anti-talk NDFB inside Bhutan. These camps are located close to the international border, and are very convenient for sneaking in and out for the militants," an intelligence official said.
The activities of anti-talks NDFB militants significantly increased after Bangladesh ceased to be a safe haven for northeast militant groups after Sheikh Hasina became the prime minister of the country. Many NDFB militants were arrested while escaping from Bangladesh and entering India through Meghalaya.
"In such a situation, Bhutan has emerged once again as the preferred place for the NDFB to carry out its activities," the intelligence official said, adding that Sarpang district is the place where most of the activities of NDFB (anti-talk) were concentrated. In 2003, all NDFB camps along with Ulfa and KLO were dismantled during the operation All Clear' by the Royal Bhutan Army."