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Gunman takes girl hostage

Sivasagar, Dec. 4: An unidentified gunman took a girl as hostage after he entered a school van at Simaluguri in Sivasagar district this afternoon.

Sources said the gunman got into a Maruti van carrying 11 students at Masjid Tiniali in Simaluguri and forced the driver to divert the vehicle at gunpoint towards the Assam-Nagaland border at Santak Lengibor via Ramugaon. The students belong to Nazira Central School, situated at the ONGC Colony, about 15km from Sivasagar.

Sivasagar additional superintendent of police Jayanta Sarathi Bora said the gunman left 10 students, the driver and the vehicle near the border, about 30km from the spot where he got into the van, and took a Class VIII student, Gunjan Sharma, as hostage.

However, Assam additional director-general of police (law and order) A.P. Raut said a preliminary investigation revealed it was not a case of kidnapping. He said a youth, who was in an inebriated state, was creating nuisance in the area when locals confronted him.

“After he was chased by the people, the miscreant pulled out a pistol and fired two rounds in the air. At that point, the van reached the spot and he hijacked it at gunpoint to flee,” Raut said.

Sources in Simaluguri said the gunman had taken the girl hostage only to ensure his “own protection” and not for ransom.

Sources said the man had entered a restaurant at Simaluguri but was subsequently asked to leave for his strange behaviour. “He took out a 9mm pistol and pointed it towards the restaurant staff but the gun misfired,” a source said.

Raut said the accused would be arrested very soon and search is on for the schoolgirl.

The family of the victim is reportedly in shock. “Police personnel are camping at the girl’s house. Her family runs a business,” a source said.