Top ULFA militant killed, explosives seized

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Shillong, Jan 20 (UNI) A top ULFA militant was gunned down by a joint operation team of the Meghalaya police and army in Garo Hills today.

''Madan Koch, operational head of United Liberation Front of Asom's '109 battalion' in Garo Hills, died in the encounter at about 0330 hours at Kathalbari village bordering Assam and Meghalaya,'' Meghalaya police, DIG, Western range, FD Sangma told UNI over phone.

The police seized a pistol, two magazines, eight kilogram of RDX, a high frequency wireless set and a mobile hand set from the slain militant's possession.

''Madan Koch's movement was being monitored for the past few months. Finally we tracked him down taking refuge at a villager's house at Kathalbari,'' the DIG said.

According to him, Koch was asked to surrender; instead he opened fire at the security force.

''The security forces retaliated and gunned down Koch in the encounter,'' Sangma added.

Koch was operating in the plain belts of Garo Hills in Phulbari, Garobadha, Mendipathar and other adjoining areas in the West Garo Hills district. The region borders Assam and neighbouring Bangladesh. The ULFA uses this corridor to sneak in and out of the country due to its strategic location.

Sangma said, Koch was supervising the transaction of arms, ammunition and explosives for the ULFA through this corridor for several years now.

Last year a self-styled Sergeant Major Luceswar Rabha, alias Ratul Rabha, was arrested with five kg RDX from the same area.

Meghalaya police, together with the Sikh Regiment, arrested the militant, an explosive expert, from Oidoba village near the Meghalaya-Assam border, West Garo Hills district.

The '109th battalion' of the ULFA has its main camps at Bangladesh's Rangpur, Sherpur and Mymensingh districts, sources said.

UNI RRK PL MSJ GC1646

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