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Garo militant chief shot dead in encounter

TURA: The commander-in-chief of one of the splinter groups of the Liberation of A’chik Elite Force (LAEF) has been killed in a gun battle with police in Rongjeng forest of East Garo Hills early Wednesday morning.
Police launched an operation in the forests of Chichra village under Rongjeng police station on Tuesday night and came across a group of armed LAEF militants during early Wednesday morning.
The militants numbering between 10-12 and led by their militant chief Augustine Marak exchanged fire with the police teams leading to a 45 minute encounter, inform police officials.
In the gun battle the militant chief was shot dead and another cadre identified as Walsrang N Areng hailing from Chichra Apal village was arrested. The rest of the militants fled from the scene.
A search of the encounter site led to the recovery of an AK-47 rifle along with 72 live rounds and three mobile phones and SIM cards.
The body of the militant leader has since been brought to Williamnagar civil hospital for post mortem.
The deceased militant leader hailed from Kamrup district of Assam and was married to a local from Rongjeng area.
He was part of the original LAEF outfit currently headed by one Mathew Marak of Bakrapur village but split and formed his own team to operate in the Rongjeng-Songsak-Mangsang region.
The LAEF faction headed by Mathew Marak is believed to have the largest share of armaments including AK rifles and also a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher, as per previous confessions of arrested LAEF members.
Mathew’s LAEF faction is known to operate in the Dainadubi-Mendipathar-Damas-Kharkutta region of North Garo Hills.
Most of the cadres from both factions of LAEF are said to be recruits from Garo dominated villages of Assam and Dimapur (Nagaland).
Due to the long standing agreement between the founder of LAEF, Peter Marak, and the NSCN-Khaplang faction from Nagaland, the Garo militants were provided training in the jungles of Myanmar where the NSCN-K run their camps.
After completion of their training these militants would sneak back into Garo Hills to indulge in kidnappings and extortion.
The LAEF commander Augustine had been involved in a string of criminal cases including the abduction of a PMGSY manager from Songsak, some time ago.
The LAEF was formed by former police commando Peter Marak and current GNLA militant chief Sohan D Shira was also a part of the group during its heydays.
Following the killing of Peter Marak by police Sohan Shira surrendered to the authorities in Shillong. He later went on to form the GNLA with a deputy superintendent of police, Champion R Sangma, who is currently lodged in Shillong jail after his arrest in neighbouring Bangladesh.

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