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Meghalaya probes murder of five policemen

Last Updated: Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 21:25

Shillong: Meghalaya Police on Thursday instituted a departmental inquiry into the killing Tuesday of five policemen by tribal Garo rebels in the South Garo Hills district, bordering Bangladesh.

Five Meghalaya policemen were killed Tuesday when a group of 30 Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebels ambushed them as they were on their way to a jail to take charge of a prisoner.

Though the GNLA has not claimed responsibility for Tuesday`s incident, a breakaway faction of the A`chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC-B), another tribal Garo outfit in Meghalaya, alleged that the GNLA rebels had prior information about the movement of the policemen and were at the ready to carry out the ambush.

"We will be doing an internal inquiry as to why it happened, although we may not have been able to prevent the incident," Peter James Pyngrope Hanaman, Meghalaya Police chief, told a news agency.

Hanaman, who rushed to South Garo Hills to take stock of the situation following the killings, said the departmental inquiry will be headed by Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) H Nongpluh, who will inquire into the whole sequence of events that led to the murders.

In an e-mailed statement, ANVC-B spokesman Doang D. Shira said: "The movement of police escort was specifically informed to GNLA. There is a mole who informed of a police team coming to Tura."

"Attackers were well aware that the team did not comprise of personnel of the Special Operation Team (SOT) or the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), which gave them confidence to attack," Shira said.

Sohan D Shira, of the military wing of the outlawed GNLA, had threatened to carry out retaliatory attacks against security forces after a combined team of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) commandos raided his residence in East Garo Hills district Oct 27.

The commandos seized Indian and Bangladeshi currency, satellite telephones, a pistol, ammunition, 50 metres of safety fuse wire, 39 detonators and 23 mobile phones from Shira`s residence.

They also arrested Shira`s 15-year-old brother-in-law for his "active involvement" as an "overground" worker for the outlawed outfit.

On Sunday, the SWAT commandos foiled a major plot to carry out explosions and attacks on police personnel in Tura, the headquarters of West Garo Hills district by nabbing four GNLA rebels and seizing three powerful improvised explosive devices.

The GNLA, fighting for a separate Garoland, is headed by Champion R. Sangma, a former deputy superintendent of police, who deserted the police force because of alleged harassment by his superiors. He floated the GNLA in 2009.

Sangma was arrested July 30, 2012, near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. The government terminated his services July 2010.

The outfit, outlawed by the central government, forged an operational alliance with the United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, gaining access to arms and ammunition.

GNLA rebels, who number around 100, unleashed terror in three impoverished districts of Garo Hills in the last one year and killed over 40 people, including security personnel.

First Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 21:25
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