Armed with rocket-propeller grenades (RPGs) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), insurgents ambushed a military convoy in Manipur's Chandel district on Thursday. The ambush left 20 Armymen dead and 11 others injured.
This was the first time RPGs were used by any insurgency group in the Northeast. This was also the first time in 20 years that an attack of such a magnitude was carried out against the Indian Army.
Initially, Army and civic authorities suspected Manipur rebel outfit Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), a Meitei revolutionary organisation, who used landmines, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.
But later United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW), an umbrella group which five other rebel groups -- United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and National Democratic Front of Boroland (Songbijit)-- coalesced to form, claimed responsibility for the attack.
UNLFW was the group which carried out the 3 May attack in Nagaland which killed 7 jawans of Assam Rifles. Here's all you need to know about the newly-formed insurgent group:
Birth of UNFLW
Formed on 17 April, seeds of UNLFW were sown in a meeting held in 2011. Attended by four North East insurgent groups, Ulfa leader Paresh Baruah, NSCN-K leader Khaplang and leaders of Meitei outfits, United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and People's Liberation Army (PLA), the meeting decided on forming a confederation to "achieve united and total struggle," a report by The Times of India said. SS Khaplang was announced as the new chief of UNLFW.
"Immediately after the meting, the Meitei outfits formed an umbrella organization called CorCom (Coordination Committee), which includes Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), PREPAK (Progressive), Revolutionary People's Front, and United National Liberation Front (UNLF)."
A copy of the declaration, released by The Times of Assam is here:
Newfound camaraderie in North East:
The Thursday attack, which was the worst in the last 2 decades, was termed as a turning point by the central government. The Nagaland attack and now the Manipur attack point at the new found bonhomie among the Northeastern insurgent groups.
Telegraph report said that the cadres of this organisation are sheltered in Myanmar's Sagaing and Kachin provinces. The western part of Myanmar which shares its border with Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur have as many 11 insurgent groups. "These attacks will embolden other groups," said Brigadier (retd) Ranjit Borthakur and also added that these groups get 90% of the weapons from China.
The new group poses a never-before challenge for the Indian government and security forces.
Security forces have been given sweeping shoot-to-kill powers in "disturbed areas" under controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The law operates in most northeastern states, where clashes claimed 450 lives last year, the South Asian Terrorism Portal says.
Not the first
UNLFW is not the first umbrella group.
The Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF) was formed in 1989. United National Liberation Front, NSCN-K, Ulfa and Kuki National Army, with the help of Chin National Front, a militant outfit of Myanmar came together to form IBRF.
In mid-1995, United Liberation Front of Seven Sisters, which comprised of Ulfa and NSCN-K, was formed.
National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) one of the largest part of the UNLFW group repealed a 14-year-old ceasefire with the government in April.
Updated Date: Jun 05, 2015 14:34 PM