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GNLA, police exchange fire in South Garo Hills

Rebels planned to set up extortion centre in coal area: Police



TURA: South Garo Hills police have busted a hideout of the banned Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) outfit on Tuesday morning outside a village in Nangalbibra area that was ostensibly being established as a centre to extort money from coal quarries and trucks.

Permission for export of coal from the mineral-rich Nangalbibra region of South Garo Hills was given recently by authorities.

Police teams were rushed to the village of Maidugittim, 10 kms from Nangalbibra, following reports about the presence of GNLA rebels in the area.

When security forces arrived on the scene they spotted around 10 rebels heading towards the village from the nearby forests.

Seeing the police presence, the militants opened fire and the encounter lasted for close to ten minutes.

There were no casualties on either side with police restraining from an all-out offensive in view of the presence of civilians in the area where the firing took place.

The rebels fled soon after the gun battle and security forces are searching the forests to find the hidden camp.

Police have not ruled out the presence of GNLA rebel chief Sohan D Shira in the camp.

Police also indicated that the motive of the rebels was to set up base in Maidugittim village area to run an extortion racket targeting the coal trade.

A majority of coal quarries are located in nearby Rongding Awe from where the mineral is shipped off in trucks through the highway via Nangalbibra into the neighbouring state of Assam and beyond.

“The dense forests surrounding Maidugittim gives a vantage point to the rebels due to its proximity to the coal quarries and this was in the plan of the GNLA to establish collection point,” said police sources in Garo Hills.

Maidugittim has long been under police radar when it came to the coal trade due to previous activities of militants.

The GNLA and other previous rebel groups had also used the area as a base to extort from the coal trade.

Its dense forests have always provided rebels with the much needed cover and an opportunity to flee from approaching security forces.





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