|Two of the injured cops being treated at Tura civil hospital. Telegraph picture
Tura, July 25: Two Meghalaya policemen died and three others were seriously injured in an IED blast at Tebronggre near Rongram, about 18km from Tura in West Garo Hills this evening.
The five cops were patrolling on the Rongram-Dadenggre route in a Gypsy, when the improvised explosive device exploded around 5pm, killing one on the spot. Another policeman died in Tura civil hospital, where the injured personnel were shifted for treatment.
The victims have been identified as Arphuis Khymdiet, a constable, and the driver Lambarthu Suchiang. Rahul Marak, one of the critically injured policemen, has been shifted to Guwahati for further treatment.
West Garo Hills superintendent of police Mukesh Singh said, “Five policemen were on regular patrolling when the blast took place. Our teams have rushed to the spot.”
Police suspect the GNLA to be behind the blast.
Home minister Roshan Warjri has strongly condemned the “dastardly and cowardly” attack on police personnel. “Such acts of cowardice to derail the concerted efforts for building lasting peace and vitiating a hopeful atmosphere will not be accepted and tolerated,” she said. She also extended her condolences to the victims’ families.
The police have launched a massive manhunt to arrest those involved in the attack, Warjri said. An additional director-general of police has been deputed to Tura to take stock of the situation, she added.
“I appeal to all for their continued support to the efforts made by the government and the mediation being carried out by different concerned groups to restore peace and harmony in Meghalaya,” she said.
Two youngsters were hurt today in crossfire between security forces and militants during a flushout operation at a suspected GNLA hideout in Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills.
Acting on specific information, a joint team of Meghalaya police and security forces attacked the GNLA hideout at Jogogre near Bajengdoba, about 80km from Tura, around 4.30am, sources said.
The encounter between security forces and the rebels lasted nearly 15 minutes.
North Garo Hills superintendent of police Jerry Marak said, “We had specific inputs about the presence of GNLA cadres in the area and the operation was launched. In the crossfire, two civilians — both teenagers — were hit in the leg. The militants managed to escape.”
The police said a group of five rebels, led by “area commander” Rangdat, were staying at the hideout.
The injured persons have been identified as Brijil M. Sangma, 13, and Lakshish Sangma, 15. Both the youths are undergoing treatment at Goalpara civil hospital.
Police have recovered a 7.65mm pistol with four live rounds of ammunition and an empty cartridge from the hideout. Marak visited the injured in hospital. “Both of them sustained flesh wounds. They should be discharged within a week,” he said.
Security forces have raided at least 12 hideouts of the outfit. The counter-insurgency operations were launched in the last two months, after suspected GNLA rebels brutally murdered Jospin M. Sangma, 35, at Raja Ronggat near Chokpot on June 3 in the presence of her husband and four children.
Security forces, led by special weapon and tactics (SWAT) and CoBRA commandos, have been regularly conducting flushout operations across Garo hills. In two separate operations, GNLA “commander-in-chief” Sohan D. Shira had reportedly escaped from a hideout. In another operation in East Garo Hills, the outfit’s “area commander” Ajan Momin alias Jimmy managed to escape. Last week, security forces busted a GNLA hideout at Nongalbibra in South Garo Hills.
On July 3, in a flushout operation in North Garo Hills along the Assam-Meghalaya border, two security personnel were hurt, while the militants managed to escape.
Police have recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including AK series rifles, live ammunition, claymore mines, among others during the operations.