TURA: Violence continues to escalate in the Garo Hills region with suspected GNLA militants ambushing a police convoy by triggering a powerful IED blast in Chokpot region on Friday afternoon injuring five state police personnel belonging to the 3rd MLP battalion.
The incident comes less than 12 hours after the banned group attacked the residence of the Williamnagar Additional SP by opening indiscriminate fire and leaving behind a powerful IED bomb at the entrance to his house.
Police personnel numbering ten armed men travelling in a mini truck and a maruti gypsy from the 3rd MLP Battalion headquarters in Jowai, Jaintia Hills, were stocking up their outposts and camps when they came under attack by the armed militants.
The two vehicle convoy had just replenished the stock of food items and other essentials at Chokpot for their battalion personnel deployed for counter-insurgency operations and were moving towards Sibbari when the attack took place.
As the convoy was passing through Rongrakgre village, 10 kms away from Chokpot, the powerful IED was triggered by suspected GNLA militants hiding in the dense forests.
“The blast hit the left side of the front Gypsy causing injury to five personnel. The havildar who was seated in the front passenger seat of the Gypsy received the maximum impact of the blast,” informed district police chief Lakador Syiem to The Shillong Times.
The injured personnel have been identified as Havildar Bibison Baitha, Battalion Constable (BNC) Karbinath Sangma, BNC Alians B Marak, BNC Dambarth B Marak and driver of the gypsy Riwstarwell Nongklaw.
All five injured have been brought to Tura Civil Hospital for medical treatment and the seriously injured are expected to be transported to Guwahati for specialist treatment, informed police.
The police gypsy sustained extensive damage on the left portion of the vehicle.
Despite the attack, the militants failed to take away any service weapon from the injured personnel since the armed men in the second vehicle acted promptly.
“As soon as the blast was triggered our boys in the mini truck jumped out and took up positions. They also fired into the dense forests to deter the attackers which may have forced the ultras to flee,” said the police chief.
Preliminary investigation by police indicates that the militants may have used a remote detonator to trigger the last.
“Our boys did not find any wires at the site of the blast and cannot rule out remote detonation. Since it was getting dark and there was a security risk we decided to restart the search next morning,” said SP Syiem.
The worrying factor appears to be the manner in which the militants managed to evade the police sanitizing teams along the route through which the convoy was to pass through.
Armed personnel also known as ‘road opening’ parties had patrolled several sections of the Chokpot road to check for militant activity including IEDs earlier in the day.
“The Chokpot road was cleared by our teams at several patches along the route. The militants probably took advantage knowing that our forces were stretched. The convoy was heading to Sibbari after supplying ration to Chokpot when they were attacked,” informed Lakador Syiem.