Kidnapped SBI official freed in Meghalaya

Shillong, July 5 — An official of the State Bank of India (SBI) kidnapped by Liberation Achik Elite Force (LAEF) rebels was released unharmed after 13 days in captivity after his family paid a ransom, police said here Wednesday.

Abdul Halim, a cashier of the SBI Songsak branch, was abducted June 23 by five heavily armed LAEF rebels from the Songsak-Mendipathar road, about 300 km from Shillong, capital of Meghalaya state.

"All that I know is that he has been released but I don't have the full details as yet," Tennyson Dkhar, the intelligence chief of Meghalaya Police, told IANS.

The intelligence official said Halim was released unharmed at Darugre area in East Garo Hills district near Rongjeng police station Wednesday morning after negotiations on the ransom amount.

"They released him (Halim) after family members of the hostage paid a ransom amount of Rs.500,000 to the LAEF," the intelligence official said.

The LAEF, one of five Garo rebel groups operating in western Meghalaya, had demanded a ransom of Rs.1 million for the safe release of Halim.

The Garo tribal outfit is fighting for an independent, separate Achik state.