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11 kidnapped at gunpoint in western Mizoram, whisked away into eastern jungles of Bangladesh

This is the fourth kidnapping incident in this particular border area, where up to four BSF camps are located, since the beginning of 2013, and the second so far this year.

Written by Adam Halliday | Aizawl |
Updated: October 11, 2014 9:27:10 pm

Eleven men were kidnapped at gun-point from western Mizoram and whisked away into the eastern jungles of Bangladesh by Bangladesh-based militants late on Friday night, senior Mizoram Police officials have said.

A group of 19 people including women and children were travelling on the back of a truck when the kidnappers stopped the vehicle between Rajiv Nagar town and Zozampui village around 10 pm Friday.

The militants (made up of 12 men of whom 10 were armed with guns) let the women and children go immediately, and took the 15 men into the jungles. They later released four men, all from the Chakma tribe, but have since held captive 11 men, all of them Bengali- Muslims.

Senior CID (Special Branch) sources said the 11 men are skilled labourers from Pathankandi near south Assam’s Karimganj town. They were on their way to West Phulpui village to help construct a building under the government’s RMSA higher secondary education scheme.

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“We have confirmed that the kidnappers are a mix of cadres from the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and the Bru Democratic Front of Mizoram (BDFM),” said a senior CID official who is part of the investigations.

While the NLFT is a 25-year-old militant group with cadres drawn from various tribes of Tripura who have been fighting to reclaim much of the state from Bengali settlers, the BDFM is a loose grouping of several inmates of eastern Tripura’s relief camps, where tens of thousands of Brus who fled Mizoram in 1997 have been staying.

A senior police officer said CID investigators have intercepted communications between the kidnappers and their handlers, and that this indicated the group reached Zopui, a town in Rangamati district of Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, around 5 pm Saturday.

“They have not reached the rebel camps so there has been no ransom demand so far,” the officer said, adding Zopui is at least a 10-hour trek through jungles and hills from the site of the kidnapping.

This is the fourth kidnapping incident in this particular border area, where up to four BSF camps are located, since the beginning of 2013, and the second so far this year.

In all, 20 people have been kidnapped by the militants from this region in the past two years alone. The kidnapped include professionals working with private firms, small businessmen, drivers and, this time, skilled labourers.

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