Imphal, Oct. 3: Militants struck in a big way in Manipur for the second time in less than a week, killing four Central Reserve Police Force personnel on the Imphal-Jiribam highway this morning.
The People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak) claimed responsibility for the ambush almost immediately. A spokesman for the militant group called newspaper offices in Imphal to say that the “Red Army” — its armed wing — planned and executed the attack.
Nine personnel were wounded in the incident, which occurred around 10.30am at a site 30km from the state capital.
The same militant group was behind the September 30 ambush at Umathel in which an Assam Rifles jawan died and another was wounded.
The militants today lay in wait on a hillock at Behang in the Sadar Hills of Senapati district and sprayed a volley of bullets when a three-vehicle convoy of the CRPF passed by. Caught unawares, the paramilitary personnel had no time to retaliate.
While one of the CRPF men died where he fell, three more succumbed to injuries at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. The wounded personnel are havildars Kunjamohon and Shivakumar, and constables A.V. Reddy and W. Khan.
The CRPF inspector-general in Manipur, S.K. Jain, said the personnel were headed for Kotlien in the Sadar Hills for routine patrol when the militants ambushed the convoy. The vehicles were negotiating a blind turn when the attack began.
When reinforcements were sent to the ambush site from the CRPF Group Centre at Langjing, near Imphal, another team of militants fired at the personnel at Patsoi. There was no casualty in that attack.
The CRPF is not involved in counter-insurgency operations, limiting itself to general area-domination exercises and guarding vital installations and roads.
A large contingent of the paramilitary force has been deployed along the Imphal-Jiribam highway to provide security to workers of the Border Roads Organisation, which is repairing National Highway 53.
Police said Prepak could be attacking the security forces to make its presence felt ahead of its raising day on October 9. Today’s attack was the biggest in Manipur since February in terms of casualties. On February 24, militants killed 14 policemen and IRB personnel in Bishnupur. The team was returning to Imphal in a convoy after election duty in Tamenglong district the previous day.
No militant group claimed responsibility for that attack.