IMPHAL, June 5 � Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag airdashed here today to take stock of the situation a day after militants ambushed a convoy of the 6 Dogra Regiment in Chandel district, killing 18 soldiers and wounding at least 11 others. One suspected ultra was also reported killed during the incident.
Meanwhile, army and Assam Rifles have launched a massive combing operation involving hundreds of soldiers with the support of helicopters in the remote hilly terrains of Chandel district close to Myanmar, sources said. However, there is no report of any arrest during the operations.
Three rebel groups � National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) and Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) � have claimed responsibility for the combined attack, considered the deadliest in over three decades in the State.
The rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades, detonated improvised explosive devices and sprayed the trucks with machine guns. Two of the military trucks carrying soldiers caught fire.
Security agencies suspect hands of People�s Liberation Army (PLA) and United National Liberation Front (UNLF) behind the ambush as both the groups have been targeting Assam Rifles troops.
The post mortem of the deceased 18 soldiers, including seven from Himachal Pradesh, six from Jammu and Kashmir, two from UP, one each from Karnataka, MP and Punjab, besides the suspected ultra, have been conducted at JNIMS mortuary. The body of sepoy driver JK Kushwaha (39) has been flown to his native Rewa district (Madhya Pradesh) after autopsy, sources here said.
A floral tribute ceremony is being organised prior to sending the bodies to their respective native places on Saturday. The identity of the suspected underground cadre killed in the ambush is yet to be ascertained.
The State police have registered a case in connection with the incident besides conducting an on the spot inquiry, according to Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam.
He said the State Government shares the pain and sorrow of the families who lost their near and dear ones in the incident and prays for speedy recovery of the injured personnel.