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8 die in Tripura rebel mayhem

Hazari Para (West Tripura), Sept. 25: Hit squads of the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura struck in coordination early today, raiding a village of non-tribals and gunning down eight residents in the worst massacre of civilians in the state this year.

Police said the militants stormed this remote West Tripura village, a midget under the shadow of the towering Barmura ranges 10 km southeast of Khowai town, in three groups around 1.45 am. One of the squads ensured that the special police officers supposed to guard the village were kept confined to their camp, while the other two went about their mission.

The first group broke into the house of 48-year-old Jatindra Debnath, next to the narrow slushy road leading to the village, and opened fire. Jatindra, his wife Jyotsna and their two children, however, fled through the backdoor and into the nearby paddy field.

The rebels next swooped down on the mud-walled house of 55-year-old Nirod Debnath and broke open the bamboo doors. They shot Nirod, his sister Chapala and their nonagenarian mother Premadamayee. Nirod’s two children, Nitai, 10, and daughter Niyati, 25, were seriously wounded.

Nitai succumbed to bullet injuries while being taken to G.B. Hospital.

The second hit squad struck in the neighbouring house of Amulya Debnath, 49. The gunmen shot dead Amulya , his wife Niva and their two minor sons Arabinda and Amarchand.

The only survivor in the family was the Debnaths’ 14-year-old daughter Sabita, who hid under a cot and watched aghast when the militants were pumping bullets into her parents and siblings.

“Please let me die with them. How can I live without my parents and brothers'” wailed Sabita as she was being taken to the village crematorium for the mass funeral this afternoon.

Combing operations by the Assam Rifles and the Tripura State Rifles did not yield any result until late tonight.

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