Jorhat, Jan. 2: Two NSCN (I-M) cadres were killed while two civilians died in the crossfire between Assam Rifles and militants at Holam village, about 30km from Khonsa, district headquarters of Tirap district in Arunachal Pradesh in the wee hours today.
Two AK-47 rifles, a sniper rifle and an M-16 rifle were recovered from the incident site.
An Assam Rifles official based at Khonsa said another militant, who was injured in the encounter, escaped but a search was on to track him down.
Tirap deputy commissioner Kailash Joshi told The Telegraph over phone that the encounter took place around 5am and there was heavy firing from both the sides resulting in the death of four persons.
“While two were NSCN (I-M) cadres, two others were civilians,” the deputy commissioner said.
The names of the two civilians are still unknown. “A magistrate has gone to the incident site and the names would be known when he returns,” he said.
The Assam Rifles official said an operation was launched early in the morning today following specific information about the presence of a group of militants in the village.
“Our men approached the village early in the morning in search of the militants but they were fired upon from automatic weapons by the militants who were hiding in the village,” he said.
The encounter took place for about half an hour and when shooting stopped from the other side, the Assam Rifles jawans launched a search operation.
“Our men recovered the bodies of two militants in battle fatigue. The two civilians died when they tried to escape from heavy firing,” the official said.
Joshi said Assam Rifles has been carrying out operations to flush out militants, mostly from Nagaland, from Arunachal Pradesh districts.
“The district authorities are not involved in the counter-insurgency operations. It is the Assam Rifles which has been involved in all such operations in the three districts (Changlang, Longding and Tirap),” he said.
He said notwithstanding the death of the two civilians, today’s operation was a success for the Assam Rifles.
In March, the Assam Rifles apprehended three NSCN (I-M) cadres, including the commander of Khonsa town committee of the outfit from Damdam village. Three pistols with ammunition, explosives, detonators and extortion notices were recovered from them.
In February, the Assam Rifles arrested two other militants from Borduria village and recovered an AK-47 rifle and ammunition from them.