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Militants kill five policemen in Meghalaya
Wednesday November 6, 2013 0:29 AM, IANS

Security forces Tuesday launched a major search operation in Meghalaya after tribal militants gunned down five policemen in the troubled Garo Hills region.

A group of 15-20 Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) guerrillas led by "area commander" Rakkam ambushed a police team in Banjakona area in South Garo Hills district bordering Bangladesh.

Banjakona is located about 400 Km from Shillong, the Meghalaya capital. The attackers snatched away three AK-47 rifles and a carbine from the dead men.

The rebels hurled two grenades, one which didn't explode, before firing indiscriminately at the policemen who were proceeding to Tura in West Garo Hills district to bring a prisoner from Tura jail to South Garo Hills.

Though the GNLA has not claimed responsibility for the incident, Meghalaya's police chief Peter James Pyngrope Hanaman said: "The GNLA is behind this cowardly attack."

"We had intelligence inputs that they (GNLA) were planning to carry out retaliatory attacks following the raid on the residence of the outfit's military wing chief Sohan D. Shira," Hanaman said.

"Today may be their day but they (GNLA) should remember that we are not far from them," Hanaman told IANS before rushing to the South Garo Hills.

Sohan. D. Shira, the military wing of the outlawed GNLA, had threatened to carry out retaliatory attacks against security forces after a combined team of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) commandoes raided his residence in East Garo Hills district Oct 27.

The commandoes had seized Indian and Bangladeshi currency, satellite telephones, a pistol, ammunition, 50 metres of safety fuse wire, 39 detonators and 23 mobile phones from Shira's residence.

They also arrested Shira's 15-year-old brother-in-law for his "active involvement" as an overground worker for the outlawed outfit.

On Sunday, the SWAT commandos foiled a major plot to carry out explosions and attacks on police personnel in Tura, the headquarters of West Garo Hills district by nabbing four GNLA rebels and seizing three powerful improvised explosive devices.

Condemning the killings, Home Minister Roshan Warjri said: "This heinous attack by the rebels on an unsuspecting police team reflects their cowardly act.

"I deeply mourn the loss of life of our men in uniform."

Warjri said police personnel in Garo Hills had been asked to remain extra vigilant.

"We (Meghalaya government) had requested the union home ministry to provide an additional 10 companies of paramilitary forces to the state to counter the insurgency in Garo Hills," she said

The GNLA, fighting for a separate Garoland, is headed by Champion R. Sangma, a former deputy superintendent who deserted Meghalaya Police owing to alleged harassment by his superiors. He floated GNLA in 2009.

Sangma was arrested July 30, 2012 near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. The government terminated his services in July 2010.

The outfit, outlawed by the central government, forged an operational alliance with the United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, gaining access to arms and ammunition.

GNLA rebels, who number around 100, unleashed terror in three impoverished districts of Garo Hills in the last one year and killed over 40 people, including security personnel.

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