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Rebel killed in Garo hills encounter

- GNLA area commander, five others escape

Tura, June 23: Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) area commander Ajan Momin alias Jimmy escaped along with five others while one militant was killed when security forces stormed their hideout in Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills today.

In the gun battle, which lasted for nearly 20 minutes, GNLA rebel Cheman Momin was killed while another, Piston Sangma, was arrested.

The police have also arrested Jimmy’s girlfriend, who was present at the hideout.

East Garo Hills police, along with personnel from Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), began an operation to locate the outfit’s hideout at Mikilsimgre village, about 19km from Williamnagar, last night.

At least seven cadres were taking shelter at the temporary hideout.

East Garo Hills superintendent of police Davies Marak said, “Based on our inputs that the area commander was taking shelter at Mikilsimgre village, we launched our operation late in the evening. We managed to reach the spot around 5am. It was raining and the sentry, Piston Sangma, was sleeping. We arrested him and he guided us to the hideout, which was roughly 15 metres from there.”

Marak told this correspondent that security forces waited near the three huts for nearly 10 to 15 minutes and cordoned off the area.

“A rebel came out and fired at the security forces. We fired back and gunned him down. The firing continued for nearly 15 to 20 minutes and Jimmy, along with five others, managed to escape. We are sure that three of them were injured. However, we could not confirm whether Jimmy was wounded or not,” said Marak.

“It was a remote location far from the neighbouring village. We continued our operation and returned to Williamnagar around 4.30pm today.”

The police have recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including an AK-56 rifle with six magazines, two pistols, 7.65mm calibre with three magazines, 19 live wire, STBL gun with eight live cartridge, one grenade, three wireless set, IEDs, gelatine, one plastic containing explosive substance, four mobile handsets, timer device, ID cards, GNLA badge and camouflage.

The two ID cards belonged to Jimmy and one each to Werong D. Sangma and Banchrang A. Sangma.