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SWAT commando hurt in encounter

Shillong, Dec. 11: Three persons, including a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commando of the Meghalaya police, were injured as militants, suspected to be members of the outlawed the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), attacked them in three places in the Garo hills region today.

Confirming the attacks, a senior police official here said the first incident took place at Chasinggre, when armed militants opened fire at a petrol pump of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), injuring two workers, Nobo Hajong and Biswajit Shah. A cash counter was also damaged when militants hurled a grenade at the office of the petrol pump.

After attacking the petrol pump, the militants fired and threw a grenade at a repeater station of the Meghalaya Police Radio Organisation (MPRO) near the petrol pump at Chasinggre on the outskirts of Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills.

The organisation’s communication sets were damaged but none of their officials were injured in the attack.

The third attack was deadly as militants laid an ambush on a team of SWAT commandos at Pathargittim under Nongalbibra police station in South Garo Hills district. Though no one died, one commando, Donboklang Jana, was injured when bullets hit him in his stomach and thigh.

Jana was airlifted to Shillong and admitted to the military hospital, a police official said.

The attacks came as revenge by the GNLA militants, a day after their general headquarters at Durama hill range near Adugre village in East Garo Hills district was captured in a crackdown launched by SWAT commandos and the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the CRPF.

The police official attributed the retaliatory attacks by the militants mainly because of the success of the operations against them.

“Security forces have intensified the operations against members of the rebel group,” the official added.

The GNLA, floated in 2009 by former Meghalaya deputy superintendent of police, Champion R. Sangma, is fighting for a separate Garoland. Sangma deserted the police force to lead the GNLA as its chairman.

At present, Sangma, the “chairman” of the GNLA, arrested from Umkrem Pyrdiwah area in East Khasi Hills district in July last year, is being lodged in a jail here.

According to the police, the GNLA has good links with other militant groups in the Northeast like NSCN (I-M), Ulfa and NDFB.

Militancy in Garo hills has become a problem with the formation of one splinter group after another.

The GNLA was an offshoot of the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), which had entered into a ceasefire agreement since July 23, 2004.

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