In what is described as a severe attack on the army personnel for more than a decade, 18 army personnel were killed in a powerful ambush by the insurgent outfit in Manipur. The attack took place in the morning in Chandel area of north-east state when the convoy of jawans and officers of 6 Dogra regiment was on its way to Manipur’s capital Imphal. So far, no group has taken a responsibility of the attack.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed shock over the incident. Writing on the micro-blogging site Twitter, the PM said, “Today’s mindless attack in Manipur is very distressing. I bow to each and every soldier who has sacrificed his life for the Nation”.
The power circles in New Delhi too went into taking the stock of the entire incident with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Chief of Army Staff Dalbir Singh Suhag holding an emergency meeting.
“Those who have committed this cowardly act will be brought to book…the Army will continue to work towards bringing peace and normalcy to the State,” Defence Minister Parrikar said in a statement released by the Press Information Bureau.
“The Minister has conveyed his deepest condolences to the bereaved families of the brave Army men who lost their lives today,” added the release.
According to the initial probe, the convoy carrying the army personnel was attacked on a stretch between the Paralong and Charong villages in Chandel, around 80 kilometres away from Imphal. Army officials claim that the ambush was laid by unidentified insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and automatic weapons.
“20 armymen were killed and 11 injured in the attack,” Army spokesperson Col. Rohan Anand said reacting over the shocking incident.
The investigators claimed that the ambush was triggered after an IED blast stirred the four vehicle convoy followed by the insurgents resorting to heavy firing at the army personnel. Army authorities claim that the insurgents were carrying RPGs and automatic weapons. A suspected insurgent was also killed as the army retaliated to the heavy firing, local police said.
Though, no group has taken responsibility, Manipur Home Secretary J Suresh Babu has claimed about the suspected involvement of Manipur rebel outfit Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).
“This seems to be the work of PLA, with suspected support by the ‘KYKL’ group also. We are still waiting for more inputs to come in,” the Home Secretary added.
A reinforcement party of the security forces has now been rushed to the spot for combing operation to nab the militants.
This is seen as the worst attack on the army in recent years. Incidentally, it has happened barely a week after the state government of Tripura had recommended lifting of contentious AFSPA after 18 years. The attack is certain to spark another debate on AFSPA as some areas in Manipur too are under the controversial law giving immunity to the defence personnel.