A day after an Arunachal Pradesh MLA, his son and nine others including his security personnel were gunned down by suspected NSCN (Isak-Muivah) militants in Tirap district, the Army on Wednesday launched a combing operation in the surrounding jungles.
Sources said that the Army has effectively blocked the likely routes of escape and intensified checks along the Nagaland-Arunachal borders. “The Army has also increased area domination teams and mobile check posts are being deployed all along adjoining districts of Nagaland,” said a Kohima-based defence spokesperson in a statement.
The spokesperson also said that the Army is working closely with the “police, civil administration and intelligence agencies” to identify the insurgents behind the killings. “The Indian Army has assured that it will soon track down and bring to justice all perpetrators involved in this horrific act,” the spokesperson said.
MLA Tirong Aboh and 10 others were killed in the 12 Mile area, 20 km from Khonsa, the district headquarters town of Tirap, when the lawmaker was on his way to Khonsa from Dibrugarh in Assam.
Aboh (41) won the Khonsa West Assembly seat in 2014 and was seeking re-election as a National People’s Party (NPP) candidate from the constituency.
Arunachal MP and Union MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju said on Facebook: “A massive military operation has been launched by the security forces in eastern Arunachal Pradesh… It is such a dastardly attack. In the last few years, security situation in entire Arunachal Pradesh had improved but the two incidents in Tirap district during this election have spoilt the atmosphere.”
Tirap Deputy Commissioner P N Thungon told The Indian Express, “Security operations have been launched. The situation is all right in the district now. A local peace committee comprising members of various NGOs and welfare committees are helping us in maintaining peace at this point.”
Meanwhile, a local television channel, Northeast Live, claimed to have interviewed one of the survivors of the attack. With his face and identity hidden, the survivor said on TV, “Directly fired. We could not save the MLA. Two of my colleagues were killed. They were 12-13 attackers. For two-three minutes, they rained bullets on us. I was in the last vehicle. From the sound it appears, they were using AK-series weapons.”
Sources said that the bodies of the victims were handed over to their relatives after conducting autopsies. Defence sources confirmed the involvement of the NSCN (IM) in the killings, stating that a group of about 10 to 15 rebels were involved in the attack.
The militants had also set ablaze one of the vehicles in Aboh’s convoy, sources said adding that a police personnel and a civilian had sustained bullet injuries while a woman and another police personnel escaped unhurt.
The DIG (East), the IGP (Law and Order) and the SP from neighbouring Changlang district moved to Khonsa Tuesday night to supervise operations and coordinate with security agencies.