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Anti-ULFA sweep to cover more states

A major counter-insurgency offensive in Assam is likely to be extended to neighbouring areas following killings.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2007 16:40 IST

A major counter-insurgency offensive in Assam is to be extended to neighbouring states to crack down on separatists blamed for the killing of scores of Hindi-speaking people.

More than 27,000 army, police, and paramilitary personnel are engaged in a massive operation in Assam against the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), blamed for a recent wave of violence that killed 76 people.

"The operations are likely to be extended beyond Assam and cover Meghalaya as well. Troops are already combing select jungle areas in Arunachal Pradesh," an army official said.

"The coordinated offensive is required as ULFA cadres are escaping to Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya from Assam," the official said.

Top army commanders, along with senior police officials from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, met on Friday at a military base here.

A meeting of the unified command involving the army, Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and police officials from Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh was held, an army statement said.

Chairing it was Lt Gen RK Chhabra, General Officer Commanding of the army's 4 Corps, based in Tezpur, 190 km from here.

The participants deliberated on the modus operandi of the terrorists and worked out strategies to counter them.

At least five ULFA rebels were killed and close to 20 captured since the operations began Jan 8.

"The operations are on in full swing and the results so far are good. We cannot divulge details," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists.

Between Jan 5 and 8, ULFA killed 61 Bihari migrants in separate but coordinated attacks. Most victims were poor workers. Five policemen, two officials and three civilians were also killed in the mayhem.

The Assam government on Friday stepped up security after ULFA issued fresh threats asking migrant workers to leave the state.

"We have tightened security across the state and are committed to protecting the people of Assam, be they locals or Hindi speakers," Gogoi said.

The fresh threats by ULFA have again triggered panic among the migrants. "As thousands of Assamese live outside the state, every Indian has the right to stay and work in this state," Gogoi said.