Two Assam Rifles ‘jawans’ were killed in an encounter with suspected NSCN(K) and ULFA (I) cadres at Jagun in Tinsukia district of Assam, close to the border with Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday.
“Two ‘jawans’ have been murdered in the incident. In a swift counter-attack, several militants have also been neutralized. Details are awaited as the encounter is still on,” Assam Police DGP Mukesh Sahay told Hindustan Times.
Unconfirmed reports stated that two cadres each of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang and United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent have been killed in the counter-attack – taking the total death toll to six.
The India-Myanmar border has been sealed temporarily and a massive counter operation is underway.
In a statement issued to media houses, the United Liberation from of Assam-Independent claimed responsibility for the attack and claimed three Assam Rifles ‘jawans’ have been killed and arms seized.
Sunday’s encounter started following a grenade attack on the Jagun-Jairampur stretch of NH 153 on a private vehicle carrying tourists to the Pangsau Pass winter festival, which began at Nampong in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.
“A group of insurgents blasted a grenade which hit a vehicle around 8:00 am. Two vehicles were damaged, but no one sustained injuries,” Tinsukia SP Mugdhajyoti Dev Mahanta told HT.
Following the incident, Assam Rifles personnel reached the spot and engaged in an encounter with the militants.
The incident left thousands of tourists, including foreigners, who were on their way to the annual festival and also the nearby Lake of No Return, stranded on the highway.
“There were more than 500 vehicles on their way to the festival. Many of them have come back for safety reasons as the encounter is still on,” Mahanta said.
In November, three Indian Army ‘jawans’ were killed and three others injured in an ambush jointly carried out by ULFA (I) and NSCN (K) inside Burhi Dihing reserve forest in Tinsukia district.
Every year, insurgent outfits in north-east issue calls to boycott Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations. Sometimes they carry out attacks on security forces and civilians.