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Locals Claim a Bomb From Myanmar Army Against Rebels Landed in Mizoram, Assam Rifles Deny

India is yet to issue an official statement in the matter.

New Delhi: A day after locals claimed that a bomb from a military operation by Myanmar dropped in Mizoram, the Assam Rifles denied that any explosion took place on the Indian side.

The ongoing armed fight between the Myanmar army and Chin rebels has triggered a fresh round of fear and panic among border residents of Mizoram in the last two days.

According to The Irrawaddy, a newspaper which reports on Myanmar, on January 10, a Myanmar Junta airstrike at Mount Victoria, the headquarters of the Chin National Front (CNF) in Chin State on the western border of the country, took the lives of five ethnic Chin resistance fighters, including two women.

CNF was the first rebel group to join the resistance movement against the military coup in 2021. The movement was led by the National Unity Government (NUG) to topple the military regime.

Since then, the country has seen multiple incidents of fierce fights, leading to civilian and security personnel deaths. More and more people have sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh and the Indian state of Mizoram. The Chin National Army, the armed wing of the CNF, has since April 2021 carried out multiple ambushes on Myanmarese army convoys, causing heavy casualties. 

The news report said one of the five bombs launched by the Myanmarese army, the Tatmadaw, on January 10 landed on the Indian side, in Mizoram’s Champai district. “The other four bombs hit the CNA’s headquarters close to the frontier with India, killing five resistance fighters,” it said.

Also read | Ground Report: Myanmar Refugees in Mizoram Camps Are a Picture of Resilience

Farkawn village. Photo: Wikipedia (CC BY 4.0)

More than 24 hours after local media reported about the incident, the Assam Rifles told news agency PTI that the Indian side was unaffected by the aerial strikes.

A senior official of Champai district told PTI that an official statement would be issued in the matter only after a thorough verification of the details.

“I have sent a magistrate of the area concerned to verify the claims being made by some locals. An official report in the matter can be expected by Thursday evening,” Champhai deputy commissioner James Lalrinchhana said.

He said that a detailed report will be sent to the higher authorities once the verification is done.

However, PTI also quoted Lalramliana, the president of Farkawn village council in Champai, as saying that a bomb was dropped near Tiau river on the Mizoram side. “A truck owned by a village council member has been damaged in the explosion,” he said.

An Indian Express report said the bomb fell 30 metres from the Tiau river, forcing residents of the district’s Farkawn village to rush inside their homes. The effect of the bomb fell on a lone truck parked along the river side. The report said a team of Assam Rifles was spotted inspecting the area. 

The bombing continued on January 11 too, spreading fear among border residents.

The Express report, quoting a district official, said, “We are watching if there will be an influx of people from across the border but until now, not many have come. There has not been much civilian movement as the site which was bombed was a training camp.” 

Mizoram so far has over 2,000 refugees from the Chin State.

The Irrawaddy report said the Interim Chin National Consultative Council (ICNCC), formed as a platform to coordinate with NUG to return the country to democracy, has issued a press statement condemning the airstrike, calling it a a proof that “the junta’s recent announcement of a ceasefire with EAOs (ethnic armed organisations) is just a lie.”

It said the attack had only “made the Chin people more determined to topple the military dictatorship.”

The ICNCC was referring to junta leader Min Aung Hliang inviting leaders of ethnic armed organisations for talks to “end armed conflict” in April 2022.

Reacting to it then, the acting president of the parallel NUG government, Duwa Lashi La, warned the EAOs against accepting the junta leader’s peace invitation, adding, “…you should be careful not to jump at any quick promises.” 

The country has about 20 EAOs out of which only 10 had signed the ceasefire agreement. The joining of forces between the NUG and the EAOs after the coup has made fighting them an uphill task for the military. Alongside the April 2022 peace invitation, the military has also been conferring honorary titles to certain EAOs leaders which is being seen as overtures to weaken the joint fight.

However, following the latest airstrike on the CNF headquarters, NUG minister for international cooperation, Sasa, an ethnic Chin, wrote on Facebook, “This attack will make us stronger…we must all continue to fight the good fight so that justice and federal democracy will prevail in Chinland and across all of Myanmar.”

To mark their condemnation of the airstrikes, residents of Hakha, the capital of the Chin State, took out a silent procession and shut down market areas. 

This article, which was published on January 12 at 12:46 pm, has been republished on the same date at 10:06 pm with the locals claiming that one of the bombs from a military operation by Myanmar landed in Mizoram.