TURA, June 4 � Heavily- armed militants suspected to be either from Bodo or Garo outfits ambushed a police patrol party near Mendipather in East Garo Hills district just as day broke on Saturday opening indiscriminate fire leading to the death of three Meghalaya police personnel and grievous injury to another two.
Initial suspicion of the attack fell on the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants headed by a former Deputy Superintendent of Police, Champion R Sangma, but the outfit has strongly denied any involvement.
A police party in a requisitioned red sumo vehicle (ML-08-A-7483) was returning from an anti dacoity operation when they were waylaid by as many as 10 heavily-armed men who opened fire from automatic weapons.
There was a heavy shower at 5:50 am and the police party took shelter in a tea stall at Tapa Darengchi village, 12 kms from Mendipather town, while on a return from their anti-dacoity operation when a villager came up and alerted them about a dacoity on coal trucks taking place a little ahead.
�The police force rushed towards the area and just as they were on a climb up a hilly portion of the road the militants perched atop opened fire from automatic rifles,� informed police at Mendipather.
The militants opened indiscriminate automatic fire continuously on the unsuspecting policemen who did not get a chance to retaliate and were literally massacred. �Although they had body armor on their chests which is mandatory in militancy areas they had little chance since the firing was from top. All of them had bullet wounds on the head,� a police officer who visited the site of the incident mentioned.
While three of the policemen died on the spot two others have been rushed to Goalpara civil hospital in critical condition.
The militants took away an AK-47 rifle, one INSAS rifle, one SLR and a carbine with over a hundred live ammunition from the slain policemen.
They did not even spare the duty jackets which included the body armor.
The deceased have been identified as Havildar Blein Makhroh, Battalion Constable (BnC)Johnningbirth Marak and BnC Duke M Sangma. Constable Duke M Sangma had only a month back got married. All three belonged to the 5th battalion of Meghalaya Police.
Among the two critically injured GG Momin has been taken to Guwahati Medical College Hospital for intensive care treatment and remains in critical condition while his colleague M Rymbai admitted to Goalpara civil hospital is out of danger. The injured duo belong to Mendipather police station.
Apart from the GNLA there is a strong suspicion on militants belonging to the anti- talks faction of the NDFB. The GNLA�s area commander of West Khasi Hills and former police constable Savio Marak called up media houses to strongly deny his organization�s involvement.
�It is the handiwork of either the Rabha Security Force with support from Boro groups because the area is a transit route for crossing by various outfits from both Meghalaya and Assam. We are not involved as informed by our area commander for Resu-Mendi northern zone Rakkam Marak,� claimed GNLA�s Savio Marak.
While the GNLA is also believed to have a presence in the area there have also been recent incidents of other groups extorting from the several hundred coal trucks which ply through the route. The road is a lifeline for coal export from Nangalbibra in South Garo Hills into Assam.