Guwahati: An Assam Rifles Colonel, his wife and eight-year-old son, and four soldiers were killed in an ambush by terrorists near the border with Myanmar in Manipur. The terror attack – one of the deadliest in the region in recent times – took place at 11 am in Manipur’s Churachandpur district.
The Commanding Officer of 46 Assam Rifles, Colonel Viplav Tripathi, had gone to a forward camp on Saturday and was returning when his convoy was ambushed.
“Five soldiers including Colonel Viplav Tripathi, Commanding Officer of 46 Assam Rifles, have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. The family of the Commanding Officer – wife and child – also lost their lives. DG and all ranks of Assam Rifles offer condolences to the brave soldiers and families,” the Assam Rifles said in a statement.
Manipur-based terrorist group People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, is believed to be behind the attack, though no group has claimed responsibility yet, police sources have said.
Manipur Police sources said they suspect at least four insurgent groups active in the area carried out the ambush. There was an improvised explosive device, or IED, blast before heavy firing from both sides of the road started, the sources said.
This is the first time that civilians have died in an ambush in this remote area of the district. The location is an extremely remote village around 50 km from Churachandpur.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences and condemned the attack on the Assam Rifles convoy. “Strongly condemn the attack on the Assam Rifles convoy in Manipur. I pay homage to those soldiers and family members who have been martyred today. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of sadness,” PM Modi tweeted.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the attack and gave his condolences. “The cowardly attack on an Assam Rifles convoy in Churachandpur, Manipur is extremely painful and condemnable. The nation has lost 5 brave soldiers including CO 46 AR and two family members. My condolences to the bereaved families. The perpetrators will be brought to justice soon,” Mr Singh tweeted.
Manipur, like many of the north-eastern states, is home to several armed groups fighting for either greater autonomy or secession. For decades, the Army has been deployed to the area that has borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
In 2015, 20 soldiers were killed in an attack by terrorists in Manipur, after which the Army launched a surgical strike on their camp.
The Assam Rifles is a paramilitary force that operates under the Army’s control and is used mainly for counter-insurgency operations in the northeast, though it comes under the Home Ministry for administrative purposes. It acts as an interventionist force of the central government for internal security when the situation goes beyond the control of central paramilitary operations.