March 20: Militant outfits of the Northeast showed off their firepower today, blowing up an oil pipeline, killing four Kukis and torching their houses in Assam, besides carrying out a massacre in Tripura.
The United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) blew up an Oil India Ltd (OIL) pipeline at Amguri in Sivasagar district early this morning. The 1,157-km-long pipeline carries crude from Duliajan and Moran oil fields in Dibrugarh district to Barauni in Bihar via Bongaigaon. The incident led to suspension of oil flow from Upper Assam to Bongaigaon.
With Lok Sabha elections in the state slated for next month, the renewed attacks by the banned outfit has put security forces in a tizzy. They fear that the militants might target political party candidates to disrupt the election process.
An OIL official at Charigaon pumping station in Jorhat district said oil supply could be restored only after two days. An improvised explosive device (IED) was used to trigger the blast. Few batteries and wire were recovered from near the site of the blast. The pipeline runs about five feet below the ground, which prevented a largescale oil-spill. However, nearly 10 to 12 kilolitres of oil reportedly spilled in nearby areas.
In remote Thong Bong village, 10 km from Diphu town, the anti-talks faction of United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) killed four villagers, including a woman and torched 10 houses yesterday.
Police said the village is dominated by Kukis. The army has cordoned off the whole area and launched a massive hunt. An encounter took place between 11th Garhwal Regiment and the anti-talks faction. One militant was killed and the army recovered one 9 mm carbine, one magazine, five rounds of ammunition and two Chinese grenades.
In Tripura, All Tripura Tiger Force militants shot dead five non-tribal workers of a brick field and injured two others in Champakngar under Jirania police station of Sadar subdivision this afternoon.
Police said a group of 15 Tiger Force militants stormed the Durga brick field at 2.50 pm and shot dead labourers Krishna Sarkar, Putul Debnath, Gopi Sutradhar and assistant manager Tinku Chowdhury. One Kripesh Deb, who was injured in the shootout, died on his way to hospital. The militants fled by crossing the nearby Hawrah river. Labourers Mridul Deb and Basudeb Chauhan are in a critical condition at G.B. Hospital in Agartala. The brick field owner, Gobinda Basu, was not available for comment, but police sources said he had refused to pay “tax” to the Tiger Force militants.
A security force led by West district superintendent of police T.B. Roy rushed to the spot and launched a combing operation, but no one has been arrested.