Three army jawans 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 on Saturday morning. The jawans were from 15 Kumaon Regiment.
“The incident took place at about 5:30 am on Saturday, when a Maruti Gypsy and a truck of 15 Kumaon Regiment were moving from Pengeri towards Digboi. There must have been at least 15 militants in the group that fired from inside the Upper Dehing reserved forest. It is definitely the handiwork of the ULFA faction led by Paresh Barua, with support of the NSCN(K),” said Tinsukia Superintendent of Police Mugdhajyoti Dev Mahanta.
“There was heavy shelling from inside the jungle. They also used an IED, apart from firing with RPGs and at least one grenade,” said Mahanta. Pengeri is about 535 kilometres east of Guwahati.
The two army vehicles were on duty as part of the counter-insurgency operations, Guwahati-based Army PRO Lt Col Suneet Newton told The Sunday Express. “15 Kumaon is based at Pengeri in Tinsukia district on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border,” he said.
Condemning the incident, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked the security forces to immediately launch a massive operation against the militants. “Nobody should be spared. It is also an instance of cowardice and the perpetrators will be handed unprecedented punishment,” he said.
This is the first major attack by ULFA militants since the BJP-led government took charge in Assam in May.
“Such an act is a threat to a peaceful society… the government will leave no stone unturned to unleash a combing operation to punish the insurgents involved,” said Sonowal.
“The present state government has been working to expedite all-round development in the state by maintaining a robust law and order situation. However, some proscribed organisations are bent on disturbing peace by carrying out subversive activities. The government is committed to foil such forces,” he added.
Earlier this week, a group of ULFA militants had fired on a van which was on its way to the bank to collect cash for disbursement of wages for labourers of the Pengeri tea estate.