Three Assam Rifles personnel were killed and at least six others injured in a militant attack in Khongtal area of Manipur’s Chandel district near the Indo-Myanmar border on Wednesday evening, a senior police officer confirmed to The Indian Express.
“The Assam Rifles team was returning to their base at Khongtal when an IED exploded followed by indiscriminate fire,” said a police officer in Chakpikarong, under whose jurisdiction the area is, adding that the attack took place around 6.30 pm on Wednesday.
An official statement from the Assam Rifles and the Indian Army was awaited at the time of filing this report.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Manipur Naga People’s Front (MNPF), Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) and the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) have jointly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that they were “fighting against colonial ruler India for our independence”.
The deceased have been identified as Havildar Pranay Kalita from Assam, Rifleman Metha Konyak from Nagaland, and Rifleman Ratan Salam from Manipur.
In a condolence message emailed to the press, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that the soldiers were ambushed “while they were returning back to Company Operating Base, Khongtai”.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly attack on the Assam Rifles troops. The sacrifice made by the soldiers in fighting with the militants will not go in vain. The country will always remember their martyrdom,” he said.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressed shock at the death of the soldiers and called it a “dastardly attack”. “Militancy is not a solution to any problem rather it complicates the situation,” he said, adding that the last rites of Havildar Pranay Kalita will be conducted with full state honours.
It is after several years that Manipur has witnessed a militant attack at such a scale, coming on the heels of Independence Day. In June 2015, 18 soldiers were killed and several others injured in an ambush in Moltuk valley of Chandel district. Soldiers of the 6 Dogra Regiment were going towards Pallel from their base in Moltuk when their convoy was ambushed.
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