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Death toll in Meghalaya blast rises to three

By The Assam Tribune

SHILLONG, July 26 (IANS): The death toll in the IED blast triggered by insurgents in Meghalaya has risen to three with one more policeman succumbing to his injuries Saturday, while another IED was recovered and defused by a bomb disposal squad, police said.

Constable Rahul Marak died in Assam's Guwahati Neurological Research Centre, a police officer said.

"On searching in and around the (Friday) blast site, the bomb disposal squad recovered and defused an IED planted by the militants on the hillock," Mukesh Kumar Singh, the district police chief of West Garo Hills said.

Though no militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast, Director General of Police Peter Hanaman blamed the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants for it.

The militants had planted a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) by the roadside in Tebrongre area to target security forces.

"They (militants) have been under tremendous pressure after we captured the GNLA's general headquarters and arrested some of their important cadres," Hanaman told IANS.

Hanaman, who reviewed the overall law and order situation in Garo Hills after the incident, said, "We have got vital leads and the hunt is on to arrest the culprits."

Condemning the bomb blast, Home Minister Roshan Warjri said, "Such acts of cowardice to derail the concerted efforts for building lasting peace and vitiating a hopeful atmosphere will not be accepted and tolerated."

Warjri also extended her condolences to the victims' families.

The GNLA, one of the five Garo tribal rebel groups, is fighting for a separate Garoland to be carved out of Meghalaya. It has forged an operational alliance with the ULFA and the NDFB, which provided it access to sophisticated arms and ammunition, and enabled it to unleash a reign of terror in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills.

GNLA rebels, who number around 100, have unleashed terror in five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in the last five years and killed over 100 people, including security personnel.

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