Dibrugarh/Jorhat, March 31: Two Ulfa militants were killed and an army officer was critically injured in a fierce gunbattle at Godhabeel Cokolapathar village in Assam’s Sivasagar district at 12.30 pm today.
The officer, Maj. S. Parihar, was hit by six bullets and rushed to the Assam Medical College Hospital for emergency surgery, sources said.
Army sources said a 174 Field Regiment team stationed at Maibella in Sivasagar swooped down on the village following a tip-off about a three-member gang of Ulfa militants taking shelter there. As the armymen approached the residence of one Jiba Gogoi, the militants, armed with sophisticated weapons, opened fire.
While two rebels — self-styled sergeants major Nipon Borgohain and Biplob Konwar of the “Bravo” company of the 28th battalion of the outfit — died in the three-hour encounter, the third managed to flee. A hunt has been launched to nab him.
An AK-56 rifle, two magazines, 58 rounds of ammunition, an improvised explosive device weighing 12 kg and several documents have been recovered from the slain rebels, who were identified on the basis of their Nagaland-registered driving licenses.
“The firing was intense on both sides, but the army got the better of the Ulfa cadre as their ammunition dried up,” a source said. Police teams from the Sivasagar headquarters and Demow and Nitaipukhuri police stations later reached the spot with reinforcements.
The incident comes a day after special army troops from the 21 Para Commando Unit hunted down two Ulfa men, including the “commander” of the A company of the outfit’s 28th battalion in Manabhum reserve forest in Arunachal Pradesh. Dispur today expressed concern over reports of extortion being carried out by the outfit. It said counter-insurgency operations were on in full swing to curb the movement of militants.
Security has been tightened in parts of Upper Assam and along the Assam-Arunachal and Assam-Nagaland borders in view of the Ulfa’s Raising Day on April 7 and the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slated for April 8 and 9.
Intelligence reports say the banned group is planning a massive offensive in the run-up to its Raising Day. The Jorhat district administration has cautioned residents against possible subversive activities in the next few days.