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Rebels shoot at official’s car

- Additional district magistrate escapes unhurt in South Garo Hills

Shillong, Feb. 10: A high-ranking official escaped unhurt at 11.45am today when suspected militants allegedly fired at his vehicle in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills district.

The official, who is an additional district magistrate (ADM), was returning to Baghmara, the district headquarters of South Garo Hills, when two youths in battle fatigues and armed with pistols intercepted the vehicle at Rongdotchi, 25km away from Baghmara, and asked the vehicle to stop, official sources said. The area is more than 450km from here in the state’s western region.

“The driver stopped the vehicle, but as the youths approached, the ADM asked the driver to drive on. When the driver revved up the ignition, the youths fired around three rounds at the vehicle. One bullet hit the vehicle from the rear but the ADM escaped unhurt,” sources said. He has requested that his identity not be disclosed.

This is the second such incident in less than a month where a high-ranking official escaped from the militants’ bullets.

Police suspect that cadres belonging to the Reading faction of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) carried out the attack.

“Preliminary investigation indicates that the Reading faction of the GNLA (known as GNLA-F) is suspected to be behind the incident,” sources said.

Reading T. Sangma, a former “finance secretary” of the GNLA, had deserted the parent outfit to form the GNLA-Faction (GNLA-F) following a conflict with the outfit’s “commander-in-chief” Sohan D. Shira.

On January 17, a group of militants had fired in the air while chasing the vehicle of South Garo Hills deputy commissioner Chinmay P. Gotmare.

The incident had taken place between Jaksongram and Adugre villages, 15km from Baghmara, when Gotmare was on his way to the district headquarters of South Garo Hills.