Militants gun down 5 in Assam, set trucks afire

Updated on Aug 27, 2021 11:40 PM IST

Police said around 8.30pm, a group of armed men stopped the trucks, including six carrying cement and one loaded with coal, and started firing indiscriminately

Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational Image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Guwahati Five persons were killed and one injured after suspected militants belonging to the Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) fired indiscriminately at seven trucks and set them ablaze in Assam’s Dima Hasao district, police said on Friday.

The trucks, loaded with cement, coal and other materials, were on their way to a cement factory at Umrangso when they were stopped at Diyungbra at around 8.30 pm on Thursday and attacked by the group.

A cement factory’s refusal to yield to the DNLA’s extortion demands recently may have probably triggered the attack, police said.

“The group fired at the vehicles for several minutes and then set them afire. Five persons were killed and one sustained injury. All of them are drivers and handymen of the trucks,” Dima Hasao superintendent of police Jayant Singh said.

“Additional forces were rushed to the spot immediately after the incident and a combing operation is underway to nab the culprits,” he added.

The injured person was rushed to the nearest government hospital.

Formed in April 2019, the DNLA is an Assam-based insurgent group which seeks an independent nation for the Dimasa community through armed struggle. Dimasa is one of the indigenous tribes of the state.

Around 142,413 Dimasas were concentrated in Dima Hasao district, as per the 2011 census, while others lived in neighbouring Nagaland.

In recent months, nearly 20 members of the outfit have either surrendered or been killed in gun battles with security forces.

DNLA claims to be fighting for protecting the tribe’s culture and language, and restoring the Dimasa kingdom, one of the earliest of the region. Rebel groups such as Dima Halam Daogah and Black Widow were initially operative in the region but gradually turned inactive.

Assam has a history of armed groups representing various communities seeking sovereignty, a separate state or an autonomous region. Several of them, like the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and United Liberation Front of Asom (pro-talks faction), have given up the armed struggle and signed peace deals with the Centre.

On May 14, two persons were killed in a grenade blast at Digboi in Tinsukia district, allegedly carried out by the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent).

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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