Fierce gunfight after rebels attack Meghalaya police officer

Shillong : A fierce gunbattle ensued in Meghalaya's restive West Garo Hills district Tuesday after Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebels ambushed a vehicle of a senior police officer.

No casualty was reported, police said.

The gunbattle, which lasted for nearly an hour, began when a group of heavily armed GNLA rebels fired several shots at the vehicle of Ampati sub-divisional police officer Sacheng R. Marak travelling to Dalu from Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills.

A group of 10 GNLA rebels assembled on a hilltop at Ramdapara area and fired at the vehicle which Marak was in along with his bodyguards.

"The rebels fired at the SDPO's vehicle from the top of the hill forcing our men to retaliated back. Though, there is no casualty on our side. The police officer and his men are safe and sound but the vehicle was hit by three bullets," Inspector General of Police (Western Range) F.D Sangma told IANS.

Sangma said the rebels fled from the scene after police returned the fire.

The GNLA, which is headed by police officer-turned outlaw Champion R. Sangma, is fighting for a Garoland in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills to be carved out of Meghalaya.

The GNLA, which has over 100 rebels, including a few women cadres, operating in East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills, has been declared a terrorist outfit.

Over 30 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 10 people were abducted for ransom by GNLA rebels in the last one year. In the past two months alone, 10 people were killed while two engineers of the government-run Meghalaya Energy Corp Ltd were abducted by GNLA.