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N-E rebels on bombing spree Manipur militants target foot patrols

- PLA claims responsibility

Imphal, Sept. 9: Militants triggered yet another improvised explosive device under a culvert at Kangsoibi Khongbal in Manipur’s Bishnupur district this morning, killing an Assam Rifles jawan and wounding six men.

According to unconfirmed sources, the victim, naik subedar Srinivas Rao, was part of the Assam Rifles foot patrol team that was passing through the area when the bomb went off at a spot around 5km from Imphal. The injured were evacuated to the Leimakhong army cantonment where Rao died of his injuries.

The army’s public relations office, however, is yet to confirm the report.

The PLA in a statement claimed responsibility for the attack, saying four personnel had been killed and many others critically wounded.

The top brass in the army and Assam Rifles deployed in Manipur valley, rattled by three back-to-back bomb attacks, have asked their troops to be on “maximum alert” while on patrolling on foot.

“As foot patrols were targeted in all three attacks, we have asked all units to be cautious and instructed them to look out for IEDs. We are on maximum alert,” a senior army official said here today.

The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) have carried out three bomb attacks on security forces in the last five days killing one jawan and injuring nine.

The three attacks — two of them in the capital city — were meticulously planned as only one civilian was injured.

The first explosion took place at Keishampat junction here on September 5, in which two Assam Rifles personnel were injured.

The second attack was carried out near Tiddim ground yesterday along the Imphal-airport road in which one army jawan and one civilian were wounded.

All three attacks were timed in the morning when traffic was thin. Army or Assam Rifles foot patrols were targeted as these personnel are the most vulnerable without the safety of vehicles or heavy protective gear.

While UNLF carried out the first attack, the second and third attacks were executed by the PLA.

An army team searched the area for more bombs after the explosion today but nothing could be recovered.

Police here said the attacks were precursors to the September 25 raising day of the PLA, the military wing of the Revolutionary Peoples Front.

Security forces here have also started cutting tall grass growing by the sides of national and state highways to thwart future attacks. The police have alerted Assam Rifles and army units deployed in the valley about places where bombs could be planted.