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Cops raid GNLA faction hideout; 1 rebel killed

TURA: One rebel of a GNLA faction was killed in an hour-long gun battle with police in the remote Nangalbibra region of South Garo Hills on Wednesday.
Garo Hills police raided the main camp of one of the splinter groups on Wednesday morning after several near-miss encounters against two breakaway factions of the outfit. They found a huge cache of weapons, including a mortar launcher, a German made Heckler and Koch submachine gun and automatic rifles.
The police had intelligence inputs about the faction led by former GNLA area commander Salman. Police commandoes led by Special Force-10 subsequently launched a combing operation in the forest and spotted the hideout around 10am on Wednesday. A gun battle followed that killed one rebel. The others managed to flee deep into the forest.
“It is a major success for the police to recover such a large number of weapons from the militants. The exact identification of the weapons will be made after physical verification,” said a senior police official adding that the rebels left most of their arms behind while escaping.
Police said almost all the weapons belonged to GNLA which were taken away by Salman and his followers after they split ranks last month.
Salman was a close confidant of GNLA chief Sohan and at the time of his desertion, he was the area commander. He was attached to the command of deputy commander-in-chief Rupanto Marak alias Toding but on a September night, he and 12 more rebels walked away with all the weapons leaving their second in command with just a pistol.
The deputy chief soon after contacted police and surrendered before the East Garo Hills police chief on October 7 along with the one cadre who stayed with him.
GNLA has seen a vertical split in the last one and a half months with two units breaking away to form their own groups. Besides Salman’s splinter group, another batch of rebels under the command of Baichung Momin in Chokpot also deserted the organisation to form their own outfit.
However, the first split of the rebel group took place more than a year ago when its senior commander Reding T Sangma rebelled against the leadership and went on to form ASAK.
Several of the GNLA senior leaders, including its finance secretary Rakkam D Shira, surrendered. Rakkam was subsequently killed by a GNLA squad deputed by Sohan Shira last week.

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