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Police halt carnage rerun

Guwahati, Aug. 13: Assam was spared another massacre today when security forces killed two militants on their way to a colony of Hindi-speaking people in Karbi Anglong district.

It was the first taste of success for security forces since the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front and Ulfa began their killing spree last week, taking 29 lives at last count. The district requires more security personnel to keep up the pressure on the militant groups, but chief minister Tarun Gogoi said the government would not be able to provide any.

Emerging from a meeting with a visiting home ministry team, led by special secretary (internal security) M.L. Kamawat, he said the government’s request for more forces had been turned down.

The chief minister also ruled out relocating security personnel deployed in other districts to Karbi Anglong.

The shortage of forces, however, did not stop the government from deciding to launch a “massive operation” to flush out Ulfa militants from the camps it shares with the Karbi Longri. The director-general of the BSF, A. Mitra, and his CRPF counterpart, S.I.S. Ahmed, were part of the central team.

The day also witnessed hectic political activity centring on the slaughter of innocents in Karbi Anglong. A 12-party front spearheaded by the AGP (Pragatisheel) declared a 12-hour statewide bandh from 5am tomorrow in protest against the killings.

Leaders of the front met Governor Ajai Singh and sought his intervention in the government’s handling of law and order. Not to be left behind, the AGP demanded the Gogoi government’s resignation for failing to save lives.

The latest incident in the chain of attacks on Hindi-speaking people could have occurred at Mouzadar Basti in Chokihola, had security forces not accosted a group of militants.

The subdivisional police officer of Bokajan, Satyen Gogoi, said seven militants dressed in fatigues were spotted heading towards a settlement around 4am. The militants fired at the security personnel on being asked to stop, leading to retaliatory firing in which two of them died. The remaining militants escaped.

“The group was probably on its way to attack another settlement of Hindi-speaking people,” the police officer said.

A 9mm pistol and some ammunition were found on the slain militants, both suspected of having participated in some of the attacks since Wednesday.

Hindi-speaking people are being shifted from far-flung villages to relief camps for security. Three relief camps have been set up in Bokajan and two in Santipur.

“Since most people are reluctant to shift far from their settlements, we are setting up camps near their villages. Each of these camps is for 10 to 15 families,” Gogoi said.

The two bodies found in a jungle in Parakhowa last evening have been identified as those of Suraj Sahani and his brother-in-law Nunu Satnami. Karbi Longri militants had abducted both.

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