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Manipur militants abduct PHE officials

Imphal, Nov. 27: Four engineers and a driver of the Manipur public health engineering department were abducted by the Leisemba faction of the Kangleipak Communist Party (Military Council) in Senapati district this morning.

Police recovered their vehicle this afternoon but the hostages, identified as assistant engineers K. Rameshore and H. Gyaneshore, section officer (junior engineer) K. Manigopal, surveyor of work N. Somi and driver A. Ibomcha, remained untraced.

The police said armed men waylaid the Bolero the officials were travelling in and abducted them on National Highway 39 while they were going to Tadubi in Senapati district to attend the inauguration of a water supply scheme of the department. PHE minister T.N. Haokip inaugurated the scheme as scheduled.

In a statement issued here this afternoon, the outfit’s publicity secretary, Paikhomba, said the group’s military wing, Kangleipak Fingang Lanmee, had taken the five persons hostage under “Operation Mangal” and would not release them until the PHE department reached an agreement with it over “certain matters”. The statement warned senior PHE officials of dire consequences if the department failed to arrive at an understanding with the group. It, however, did not provide details about the agreement.

The police said the abduction was related to ransom but the department refuted this claim. Senapati superintendent of police Nishit K. Ujjwal said police teams were carrying out raids to trace the abducted officials but there was no clue to their whereabouts yet.

“We found the vehicle near a village in Senapati district. The Assam Rifles is assisting us in the search for the officials,” he said. The security agencies are frisking vehicles plying in and out of the district.

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