Militants ambush convoy along Manipur-Assam highway
Imphal, Jan 24: Suspected armed militants on Tuesday ambushed a convoy of trucks and oil tankers along a national highway that connects Assam with the Manipur capital, a police officer said.
There were no casualties despite fierce exchange of fire between the security forces and the tribal militants near Khongkhang around noon, the officer said.
About 300 trucks and oil tankers proceeding from Jiribam, adjacent to Assam, under armed escort of Central Reserve Police Force and Seema Suraksha Bal personnel were attacked along NH-37, the officer said.
The militants chose a difficult section of the highway with numerous hairpin bends to launch the stealth attack on the commercial vehicles. One loaded oil tanker was punctured by bullets but did not explode. A driver present on the scene said: “It took over 30 minutes to plug the bullet holes, as petrol was gushing out of the tanker. The vehicles were halted during this time.” As the security personnel, escorting the vehicles, retaliated, the militants fled. Additional forces were rushed to launch a combing operation. The militants are believed to have fled to the mountains, a security personnel added.
Some weeks back, two drivers were injured in a similar attack while some vehicles were also damaged as the militants fired from automatic rifles. However, no arrests were made.
There have been ambushes of police personnel in the Imphal-Moreh sector of the Trans Asian Highway-1, claiming lives of some personnel and injuring several others. Recently, tribal militants also opened fire killing a civilian and injuring three others in Noney district along NH-37.
Police said a similar ambush was carried out by NSCN(IM) militants also.
The Manipur government has said that despite its request for 60 companies of central paramilitary forces, only 29 companies were sent to Manipur to escort vehicles along NH-37. As there is no security cover along NH-2 that passes through Nagaland, that route has remained impassable.