No Indian militant camps in Bhutan, says Thinley

Monday, December 20, 2010

GUWAHATI - Bhutan Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley Monday said there were no Indian separatist bases in his country and pledged not to allow rebels to enter the country for shelter.

“There are no Indian militant camps or bases in my country and we shall ensure that no militants are able to enter Bhutan,” the prime minister told journalists in Guwahati.

Bhutan had for more than a decade been the safe haven for militants from Assam and West Bengal - chiefly the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO).

The three groups had well-entrenched bases in Bhutan since the mid-1990s until 2003 when Bhutan launched a full-scale military offensive code-named Operation All Clear to evict the Indian rebels.

An estimated 30 militants were killed and at least 50 captured by Bhutanese troops and handed over to India.

Bhutan shares an unfenced 605-km border with Assam in India’s northeast.

“After the 2003 operations, we don’t have any militant bases in our country and no detainees as well. All the captured militants were handed over to Indian authorities,” the prime minister said.

Thinley called for cooperation and support from India in jointly fighting terror.

“The evil of terrorism needs to be fought effectively with the help of our friendly neighbour India,” he said.

Thinley also stressed the need for boosting bilateral trade and commerce between the two nations.

“We are hopeful of benefiting from the rapid economic growth in India and at the same time we are also initiating a lot of economic reforms in our country,” the prime minister said.

Thinley was on a visit to the southern Bhutan districts adjoining Assam and later took a scheduled flight from Guwahati to Paro in Bhutan.

Filed under: Terrorism

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