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Ulfa, NSCN in abduction row

Guwahati, Nov. 12: The two most powerful militant groups of the region are on a collision course.

Ulfa has given the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) three days to release seven members who were allegedly abducted by the Naga group yesterday from Namtola, along the Assam-Nagaland border in Sivasagar district.

The military spokesman of the group, Raju Barua, said in a statement today that Naga militants killed two of his men and abducted seven more when they were crossing a forest in Namtola.

The NSCN (I-M) admitted to killing one Ulfa member, injuring another and “arresting” a third.

The outfit’s kilonser (minister) for information and publicity, Tongmeth Konyak, said the Ulfa team was attacked for entering NSCN (I-M) territory without permission. “Our boys did not attack the Ulfa members without reason. They were our friends once and we may be friends again in future. They were attacked because they entered our territory without our permission.”

He said two of the Ulfa militants involved in that incident were now in police custody.

Ulfa has links with the Khaplang faction of the NSCN, which is engaged in a bloody turf war with the NSCN (I-M).

The Assam outfit shares some of the Khaplang group’s camps in Myanmar and uses Mon district of Nagaland, a stronghold of the Naga group, as a corridor between the region and that country.

Konyak said Ulfa could secure the release of its members through a “understanding” with the NSCN (I-M) and not by issuing threats.

Ulfa described the incident as a move by the Tangkhuls — NSCN(I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah is a Tangkhul — to create a rift between the Nagas and the Assamese. It threatened to mobilise other Naga communities to campaign against the Tangkhuls if the abducted men were not released within three days.

The Ulfa spokesman said no tribe, barring the Tangkhuls, had ever objected to providing “passage” to his outfit through Naga territory. “Just as the Nagas have the right to pass through Assam, Ulfa and the Assamese people, too, have every right to pass through Naga territory,” he added.

The NSCN (I-M) retorted that blaming one Naga tribe for the incident was unfair. “Ulfa should not try to create divisions in the Naga family. The NSCN does not represent any particular tribe; it represents the Naga community as a whole,” Konyak said.

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