TURA, Oct 28 - Nine petty traders, suspected to be from Assam, were kidnapped when they went to trade at the weekly market in Bilkona under South Garo Hills (SGH) district today.
The incident occurred between 7 am and 8 am today, when a group of armed militants stopped two Mahindra pick-up vans and took away 10 passengers in the vehicles.
However, the militants later released one of those kidnapped after they reportedly found him too poor and supposedly without any source of meeting ransom demands. They took the other nine at gun point and according to sources, proceeded towards Angratoli reserve forest, about 5 km from the weekly market.
The sensational kidnapping today follows another similar kidnapping recently by the same group of militants led by its commander-in-chief, Reding T Sangma. Nine traders were then kidnapped from near Chokpot and later released after payment of ransom.
Police sources could not confirm the group behind the kidnapping. SGH SP Anand Mishra, who rushed to the spot to oversee operations, stated that forces were in hot pursuit of the kidnappers. �We are yet to ascertain the people behind the kidnapping though we have a few leads. We believe the kidnapping could be the handiwork of the breakaway GNLA group led by Kamdat and Megam,� he said.
Meanwhile, family members of the kidnapped traders from Assam are yet to file complaints in either Assam or Meghalaya and hence, identity of the victims remain unknown.
PTI adds: The traders hailed from Mankachar area of Assam, police said, adding, the abductors were suspected to be from the Achik Songa An�pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK) group.