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Attackers in Assam’s Kokrajhar town were dressed in Army fatigues

: AGE CORRESPONDENT | MANOJ ANAND
Published : Aug 6, 2016, 11:50 am IST
Updated : Aug 6, 2016, 11:50 am IST

Bodo gunmen lob grenade at weekly market near Kokrajhar, open fire.

 (Photo: PTI)
  (Photo: PTI)

Bodo gunmen lob grenade at weekly market near Kokrajhar, open fire.

Guwahati

: Despite security alerts and intelligence inputs, suspected militants of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit faction) on Friday killed 14 civilians and left 15 including a minor girl critically wounded in an attack on a crowded weekly market in western Assam’s Kokrajhar district.

The militants who came in an autorickshaw lobbed a powerful grenade before opening fire on civilians at Balajan Tinali, about 10 km from Kokrajhar, the headquarters of the Bodoland Territorial Council. Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal who was in New Delhi condemned the incident.

Security sources said that the incident which shattered the recent lull was unusual in its nature as heavily armed militants not only killed civilians but also waited at least for 20 minutes and got engaged in an encounter with security forces. The attackers were dressed in Army fatigues.

Director General of Police Mukesh Shahay who was camping in Kokrajhar said it was the handiwork of NDFB(S) rebels. “We eliminated one of the militants in an encounter soon after the incident. Massive combing operations have been launched to nab their associates suspected to have been taking shelter in the nearby areas,” said Mr Shahay who recently told reporters that NDFB(S) was recruiting youths in western Assam. He said that security forces had recovered an AK-47 rifle from the terrorist who was killed in a gun battle with the security forces.

The shooting occurred when security forces were on a high alert in view of intelligence reports of likely attacks by militants in the run-up to the Independence Day celebrations.

The Army, which claims to have eliminated many hard-core NDFB (S) militants, was carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the area against NDFB (S) for last two years.

While narrating the incident, survivor Santosh Narzary, a trader at the market, told a local news channel, “I saw a gunman dressed in a black raincoat-like gown and another two were sitting in an autorickshaw. He wasn't firing indiscriminately but targeting people and taking one shot at a time.”

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who was in New Delhi condemned the incident. HE said the government had decided to give an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the family of each person killed. He announced an ex-gratia of `2 lakh to those critically wounded and Rs 20,000 for those having minor injuries.

Mr Sonowal said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh also called him for details of the incident and condemned the act of militants. He rushed back to Guwahati later.

The state administration has made arrangements to shift those critically wounded in the attack to Guwahati Medical College Hospital for a better treatment.

Assam health and finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who reached Kokrajhar told reporters that police had concrete evidence on the involvement of NDFB(S). He said all necessary steps had been taken to intensify security in the area.

He indicated that government was facing the shortage of paramilitary forces who were taken away after the elections.