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3 paramilitary personnel kidnapped

National Liberation Front of Tripura late on Jan 29 waylaid a truck carrying men of Border Road Task Force near Shikaribari village.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2003 13:38 IST

Tribal separatists have kidnapped three paramilitary personnel in India's troubled northeastern state of Tripura.

A police spokesman said militants from National Liberation Front of Tripura late on January 29 waylaid a truck carrying men of the Border Road Task Force (BRTF) near Shikaribari village, 140 km north of the state capital Agartlala.

"The militants abducted three BRTF personnel. We have launched a hunt to
rescue the victims," Gautam Das, police superintendent in-charge of counter-insurgency operations in Tripura, told IANS by telephone.

The BRTF is a paramilitary engineering unit engaged in road construction
works, especially along India's international borders.

The abductions follow a weekend attack by NLFT at an election meeting in
which 11 people were killed. Most of them were supporters or members of the
ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Tripura goes to the polls February 26 to elect a 60-member legislature.

The stepped up offensive by NLFT, which seeks an independent tribal homeland, comes amid allegations that some 6,000 rounds of ammunition and a large number of weapons belonging to the paramilitary Assam Rifles in Tripura have found their way into the armoury of tribal separatists.

"We have apprised the Election Commission about a nexus between certain Assam Rifles officials and NLFT," said a CPI-M spokesman.

In the past one month, at least 30 CPI-M leaders and supporters have been
killed and five kidnapped in separate incidents blamed on NLFT.

At least 200 people have died in rebel attacks during the past one year with
the NLFT and All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) also kidnapping and extorting money in remote areas.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said the separatists were taking advantage of the 856-km unfenced border with Bangladesh.

Some 10,000 people have died in insurgency in Tripura in the past two decades.

First Published: Feb 13, 2003 14:27 IST