SHILLONG, March 2 (IANS): There was a fierce exchange of fire Friday between security forces and the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) that ended in the guerrillas retreating into the forests in Meghalaya's East Garo Hills district, police said.
The gunfight lasted for about an hour. Though there were no casualties on the security forces' side, police are yet to confirm if any of the rebels were injured.
The exchange of fire took place at 6.30 a.m. in Arengdo village bordering Assam's Goalpara district when security forces came under fire from GNLA rebels in hiding.
"The encounter lasted for an hour and the militants retreated back to the jungles after intensive firing from security forces," J.F.K. Marak, district police chief of East Garo Hills, told IANS.
One pistol, detonators and incriminating documents was recovered from the site.
Acting on a tip-off, security forces had launched a combing operation in the area since Thursday night.
"The combing operation will continue in the area to flush them out," Marak said.
The GNLA, which is headed by police officer-turned-outlaw Champion R. Sangma, is fighting for a Garoland in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills to be carved out of Meghalaya.
The GNLA, which has over 100 rebels, including a few women cadres, operating in East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills, has been declared a terrorist outfit.
Over 30 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 10 people were abducted for ransom by GNLA rebels in the last one year. In the past two months alone, 10 people were killed by GNLA.