IED blast on NH 51 targets BSF convoy carrying jawan’s body
TURA: East Garo Hills Police on Tuesday morning shot dead a senior commander of the GNLA who was behind the killing of a woman in cold blood in Chokpot last year and recovered a weapon while another group of militants from the same outfit triggered a powerful IED blast on a passing BSF convoy in West Garo Hills narrowly missing the vehicle in what is believed to be retaliation for the death of their leader.
The killing of the dreaded area commander is a major success for security forces fighting the banned GNLA outfit and it comes after security forces suffered a major setback last month in which they lost four men to a GNLA ambush at Panda reserve forest of South Garo Hills.
The GNLA area commander of East Garo Hills, Kiljang Sangma alias Jangjang, was shot dead after police stormed his hideout in the deep forests of Nengkhra area of the district at 5:30 am leading to a fire fight that went on for close to twenty minutes.
He was the area commander of Chokpot region in South Garo Hills, last year, when GNLA cadres killed in cold blood a mother of three young children, Josbina Sangma, in front of her husband and children accusing her of being a police collaborator.
“The GNLA commander was shot dead during the exchange of fire and we recovered an AK rifle, magazine with ammunition, his identity card and solar plates. It was a permanent camp housing around 7-8 cadres,” said district police chief Davis Nestell R Marak while speaking to The Shillong Times over phone from Williamnagar.
When police raided the GNLA camp located in a jungle area, 2 km away from Nengkhra, the militants were caught unawares.
They were fired upon by the militants as they began descending onto the camp and the area commander (Jangjang) who was reportedly in slumber when the encounter began rushed out with guns blazing only to be shot dead by the police commandos.
“He was probably asleep when we began exchanging fire with the militants because the commander rushed out of his sleeping place in bare feet firing from an AK rifle before our boys brought him down,” said the police chief.
The district police chief also revealed that the militants made a desperate attempt to help their commander escape by engaging the security forces in a heavy exchange of fire for close to half an hour.
With the death of their commander the rest of the militants abandoned their positions and fled into the thick undergrowth in the direction of remote South Garo Hills region.
The impact of the killing of the wanted militant leader was evident after suspected GNLA militants triggered a powerful improvised explosive device in retaliation narrowly missing a three-vehicle convoy of the BSF that was passing through West Garo Hills District carrying the body of a jawan who allegedly died from self-inflicted gun-shot wounds the night before.
The BSF convoy consisting of a 407 Tata mini truck, a Gypsy and a Bolero, was passing through Kherapara area on NH-51 en-route to Tura when the blast was triggered at approximately 1:25 pm in the afternoon.
“As our convoy was approaching a left turn of the road, 4 km after Kherapara and towards Tura, a massive explosion took place smashing the windshield of the first vehicle, a 407 mini truck. The blast occurred 5-10 yards in front of the vehicle,” narrated BSF officials.
The driver of the mini truck and two jawans sitting behind in the second vehicle, a Gypsy, sustained superficial injuries caused by the breaking of the glass and flying objects.
Despite the attack the three-vehicle convoy did not stop and sped away towards Tura to avoid any potential ambush by the militants.
Top BSF officials have condemned the attack on the convoy carrying the body of a paramilitary jawan which had even put up a black flag in front of the vehicle to indicate the presence of a corpse.
“A black flag on a vehicle is the standard sign to indicate that a dead body is being carried,” said BSF officials.
Constable Ayon Paul of 36 Bn BSF, from Dumnikura Border Outpost on the Gasuapara border belt of South Garo Hills, had allegedly shot himself with his service weapon on Monday night and his body was being brought to Tura headquarters before transportation to his home town when the attack took place.
Meanwhile, the media officer of the Meghalaya Police claimed that the GNLA’s Hadeo Ch Momin Group was involved in the IED attack on the BSF convoy on Tuesday.
After the incident, a bomb disposal team from Tura rushed to the spot and identified a circuit used in the IED along with remnants of gelatin explosive materials.
Technical analysis of the IED by the experts revealed that the bomb had been triggered remotely.
The BSF authorities have lodged an FIR in this regard and Tura Police has taken up a case against Hadeo Ch Momin and other GNLA cadres for this incident and started investigation.