From Staff Correspondent
Shillong, March 10: Four Meghalaya police personnel were killed on Tuesday and another two wounded in an ambush by militants belonging to the Garo tiol Liberation Army (GNLA) at Panda reserve forest, located barely three kms from Baghmara town, the district headquarter of South Garo Hills district.
According to police sources, a police team led by Sub-Inspector Sombatsingh K Sangma was proceeding in a gypsy from Baghmara to Rongra when militants opened fire at them. The surprise attack left the occupants of the police vehicle with little time and space to retaliate.
Sources said the group of GNLA militants, numbering more than 20, is suspected to have been led by the dreaded and elusive commander-in-chief of the outfit Sohan D Shira. The hail of bullets left sub-inspector Sambotsingh K Sangma, constables Tangsengh Arengh, Leningson Ch Marak and Hemingstone Marak dead on the spot.
Two others - identified as Arpon Marak and Baiti Sangma - sustained injuries. They were airlifted by an Indian Air Force helicopter to Shillong and admitted at the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regiol Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) for treatment.
The militants also decamped with one AK 47 rifle, two INSAS rifles and one 9 mm pistol belonging to the policemen. Soon after the incident, police and paramilitary forces launched a massive combing operation in the area. Director General of Police (DGP) Rajiv Mehta, who is camping in Tura, rushed to Baghmara. Additiol police forces have also been rushed to South Garo Hills, Inspector General of Police (Western range) H Nongpluh said.
This is the first major strike by the GNLA this year, after a lull of about three months.
Meghalaya Home Minister Roshan Warjri condemned the "dastardly and cowardly" attack.
"Such acts of cowardice to derail the concerted efforts for building lasting peace and vitiating a hopeful atmosphere will not be accepted and tolerated," she said.
Warjri said the State government announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.7.5 lakh each to the next of kin of the policemen killed and Rs.1 lakh to the critically injured two personnel. (with inputs from agencies)