Shillong, Feb 25 (IANS) A huge haul of explosives, including 40 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), were on Thursday seized, averting a major tragedy in Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district.
The IEDs were planted by rebels of the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) and United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) in Doengkhugre area and in a village in Durama hill range, police said.
“We have recovered 40 IEDs and more than 10 numbers of Molotov cocktail bombs from two separate locations, and thus averted a major tragedy,” Davies Marak, the district police chief of East Garo Hills, told IANS.
The Durama hill range is a vast, densely forested area in the Garo Hills which the GNLA and ULFA-I rebels have been using as a sanctuary.
Sohan D. Shira, chief of the GNLA’s military wing, controls his rebels from Durama.
On Wednesday, a joint combing team of Meghalaya’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos, assisted by the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force, launched a massive combing operation code-named ‘Operation Hill Storm 3’ and overran a GNLA hideout.
Marak said the recovery of the bombs followed a fierce gunfight with GNLA rebels led by their Deputy Commander-in-Chief Rupanto Marak, who made a narrow escape from the site.
“SWAT commandos are still continuing with the combing operation to track down the escaped rebels,” the police official said.
The GNLA, fighting for a separate Garoland in western Meghalaya, has also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based rebel group, A’chik Special Dragon. It also has links with the NSCN-IM, ULFA and NDFB.