10 LAEF ultras arrested in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Apr 2: Meghalaya police have arrested 10 Liberation A'chik Elite Force (LAEF) ultras after the arrest of another LAEF rebel from a hideout in Shallang village, police said today.

The militant, identified as Salman Sangma, fell into the police net yesterday, as the latter, along with the Special Operation Team, continued with their flush-out operation against NSCN(IM) and LAEF insurgents hiding in the rich coal-belt area of West Khasi Hills district bordering Bangladesh, District Superintendent of Police H Kharkrang said.

Both militant groups served extortion notes to coal mine owners, coal exporters to Bangladesh and truck-owners. Borsora is the second coal trading point between India and Bangladesh, about 200 km from Meghalaya's capital Shillong, and known as a hotbed of LAEF and NSCN(IM). Besides, the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council has its base in Bangladesh.

Sangma had escaped during a recent search operation by police at Rongkhukre in the district in which three LAEF cadres were subsequently nabbed, Mr Kharkrang said.

The LAEF, a relatively new outfit, is believed to have close links with the NSCN(IM). It is fighting for a 'separate independent A'chik state' for the tribal Garos residing in Garo Hills areas of Meghalaya.

Late last year, the NSCN(IM) had reportedly provided the LAEF with as many as 15 AK-47 rifles, 25 automatic M20 pistols and three highly powerful Universal Machine Guns, besides over a hundred hand grenades to carry out their operations in Garo Hills.

The nascent militant outfit had set up its operational camp inside the Balpakram National Park, with the help of the NSCN(IM), to impart guerilla warfare tactics to new LAEF recruits.


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