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Myanmar rejects claims Indian forces cross border in pursuit of rebels

Indian army soldiers carry a coffin containing the body of their colleague Sat Pal Bhasin, who was killed in an attack by tribal separatist guerrillas in Manipur, during his funeral on the outskirts of Jammu June 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar has rejected assertions that Indian armed forces entered the country earlier this week in pursuit of separatists, saying foreign fighters would never be allowed to use Myanmar territory to stage attacks.

India’s junior minister for information and broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, said the army attacked rebels just over the border with Myanmar on Tuesday, underlining New Delhi’s resolve to fight terrorism beyond the country’s borders.

However a statement from the presidential office in Myanmar, citing information from troops in the northwest border region, said fighting had only broken out on the Indian side.

The strike was carried out in response to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in an ambush in Manipur last week.

The Indian army said in a statement that it received intelligence that rebel forces were plotting more attacks.

The statement from the Myanmar presidential office denied that any outside forces were using Myanmar as a staging ground for attacks.

“Myanmar will never accept any foreign rebels using its territory and border area as a base,” it said. “Myanmar is willing to negotiate and cooperate with the Indian government to handle the problem.”

The statement said that India’s Ambassador to Myanmar had met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday to “explain the situation,” but gave no further details.

Reporting by Hnin Yadana Zaw in Yangon and Sanjeev Miglani in New Delhi; Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin; Editing by Jeremy Laurence