Imphal, Nov. 1: Seven suspected militants were killed in an encounter in Imphal East district late last night, hours after suspected rebels gunned down three jawans of a road opening party in Chandel.
Though it still has not been ascertained which outfit the slain rebels belong to, two of them have been identified ó Oinam Anand Singh, 25, and Oinam Pakpak Singh, 23, from Ishikha Mayai Leikai village.
Troops of the 28 Assam Rifles patrolling the hilly Andro Sanapat, around 22km from Imphal town, received reliable information about the presence of a group of militants in the area.
Around 11.30pm, the security personnel accosted the group.
The encounter that followed lasted for four hours, leaving the seven dead.
Apart from the two youths from Ishikha Mayai Leikai village, the rest of the rebels are yet to be identified.
After the firing stopped, the troops conducted a search and recovered the bodies bearing multiple bullet injuries.
While four of the suspected militants were in battle fatigues, the rest were in civvies. Two AK assault rifles, four pistols, two hand grenades, two lethod bombs, IED explosive material and assorted ammunition in huge quantities were found on them.
The bodies were collected by Yairipok police under whose jurisdiction the encounter site lies and sent them to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences morgue for post-mortem.
Family members of Anand Singh and Pakpak Singh, however, claimed that the two were drivers and had been forcibly taken away from their house by gun-wielding persons on October 22.
They alleged six to seven persons in civilian clothes came to their homes in two vehicles and took them away.
Despite a frantic search by their families, the two remained untraced.
Though the families have identified the bodies, they refused to claim them, as they suspect foul play in the killing. The troops were continuing combing operations in Andro Sanapat.
Earlier that day, United National Liberation Front militants ambushed a road opening party of 43 Assam Rifles in Chandel, killing three personnel, an army spokesperson said.
Junior commissioned officer Ramesh Bahadur Thapa, who originally hails from in Nepal, havildar Samuel Kuki from Kerala and lance naik Arup Kumar from Bengal were killed in the attack.
The UNLF in a release yesterday claimed its armed wing had killed seven troopers, including an officer, and injured many more in the ambush.
The release also stated that it had captured five weapons, besides a binocular and a wireless set. The post-mortem on the bodies was conducted at RIMS today.