Guwahati : Three army jawans were killed and three others were seriously wounded in an ambush carried out by suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) in upper Assam on Saturday morning.
The incident occurred around 5:30 am when two army vehicles on the way to Digboi from Pengeri were attacked inside the Burhi Dihing reserve forest in Tinsukia district, nearly 510 km north-east of Guwahati.
This is the first major attack on security forces carried out by the banned outfit in Assam since the BJP-led government of Sarbananda Sonowal came to power in May this year.
The deceased, who belong to the 15 Kumaon Regiment, have been identified as Havildar Multan Singh, Havildar Rishi Pal and Naik Narpat Singh.
Officials said that the army vehicles — a truck and a Maruti Gypsy — were shot at and struck by grenades by militants hiding behind bushes on both sides of the road.
“They also detonated an improvised explosive device (IED). When the jawans got down from their vehicles after the blast, they were attacked,” said Guwahati-based Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Suneet Newton.
“The area is thickly forested and that gave the militants an edge to attack and escape immediately after the strike,” an army commander told Reuters, requesting not to be identified.
Tinsukia SP Mugdhajyoti Dev Mahanta said additional force has been rushed to the area and that a search operation is underway to nab the militants and to seal escape routes.
This was the second attack by insurgents this week . On Wednesday, an encounter took place near the same area where one person was killed and two others sustained injuries in an attack on a cash van belonging to Pengeri tea estate by suspected Ulfa (I) militants.
There are no details yet on whether any Ulfa (I) militant or cadres belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), who are also believed to be involved in the ambush, was injured or killed in the encounter.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted that he had spoken to Assam CM Sonowal and that the MHA was monitoring the situation. Sonowal too posted on Twitter,“Our government will take firm action against terrorism. The perpetrators of this crime will be identified and brought to justice.”