Assam: Three jawans killed, several others injured in militant encounter in Tinsukia

Guwahati, November 19: Three jawans of the Army were killed and three others seriously injured in an ambush carried out by a joint group of ULFA and NSCN(K) militants near the oil town of Digboi in Tinsukia district in eastern Assam early Saturday morning. The jawans belonged to the 15 Kumaon Regiment. This is first major attack by ULFA militants since the BJP-led government took charge in Assam in May.

“The incident took place at about 5:30 AM on Saturday as a Maruti Gypsy and a truck of the 15 Kumaon Regiment was moving from Pengeri towards Digboi. It is definitely the handiwork of the ULFA faction of Paresh Barua with support of the NSCN(K). There must have been at least 15 militants in the group that fired from inside the Upper Dehing reserved forest,” Tinsukia district SP Mugdhajyoti Dev Mahanta said.

The two army vehicles were on duty as part of the counter-insurgency operations, Guwahati-based Army PRO Lt Col Suneet Newton told The Indian Express. “The 15 Kumaon is based at Pengeri in Tinsukia district on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border,” he said. While the 2.5-ton truck was thrown off the road due to the impact of the ambush, there were countless bullet-marks on the Maruty Gypsy.

Condenmning the incident Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked the security forces to immediately launch a massive operation against the militants. “Nobody should be spared. This is an act of cowardice,” Sonowal, who asked DGP Mukesh Sahay to rush to the spot, said in Guwahati.

There was ‘heavy shelling’ on the two army vehicles from the right side of the road as they were moving from Pengeri towards Digboi. “There was heavy shelling from inside the jungle. They also used an IED, apart from firing with RPGs and at least one grenade,” Tinsukia SP Mahanta said.

It was only on Wednesday that a group of ULFA militants had fired on a van that was on its way to the bank to collect cash for disbursement of wages for labourers of the Pengeri tea estate.