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Troops gear up hunt for rebels

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By OUR BUREAU in Guwahati
  • Published 16.11.09

Silchar/Guwahati, Nov. 16: Security forces in Assam have stepped up operations to trace the tribal rebels who looted weapons from the 15 India Reserve Battalion border outpost at Chekarcham, a remote hamlet on Cachar district’s border with Manipur, on Friday night.

The forces picked up three suspected militants from a wooded area on Mastul hills on the inter-state boundary yesterday while conducting a joint operation to nab the culprits who had masterminded the swoop on the IRB camp and to trace the huge cache of arms and ammunition.

A senior police official said the operations were being carried out in two prongs, from Cachar district in Assam and Manipur.

The army sealed the Barak waterway on the Assam–Manipur border in Cachar district in a bid to plug the escape of the attackers who plundered arms from the Chekarcham border outpost and is conducting round-the-clock patrolling there.

Police sources said the army had pressed into service a few armoured carriers in their combing drive against the militants, whose identities are yet to be ascertained.

The police still believe the raid was the handiwork of the Hmar People’s Conference (Democratic). The outfit denied any role in the attack. Instead, it pointed accusing fingers at the Kuki National Council (Military). It also condemned the attack in which four IRB jawans were injured.

The police maintain that the Kuki outfit did not have much of a presence in the area where the incident took place and, therefore, it was difficult to imagine that it could have been involved.

The sources said some leads had been obtained as to the identity of the raiders but refused to divulge any information.

“Dispur is seriously concerned about the weapons that have been looted given the huge quantity of arms,” a source said.

The raiders had looted 20 SLRs, three carbines, two light machine guns, a revolver and a large quantity of assorted ammunition. “Taken together, they pack a lot of firepower that can keep the forces at bay if there is enough ammunition to feed these arms,” the source said.