Colonel Viplav Tripati, the Commanding Officer of Khuga Battalion of Assam Rifles, his wife and son, besides four personnel of the paramilitary force were killed in an ambush in Manipur on Saturday morning, in fresh eruption of militant violence in the border state, officials said.
Tripathi's convoy was targeted at Sehkan village in Churachandpur district by suspected militants of the People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), a militant group in Manipur demanding a separate homeland.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) burst, shattering tenuous peace in Manipur hills, before the Assam Rifles personnel engaged the militants in a firefight.
"In the firefight which followed with the Militants (Suspected PREPAK/ PLA cadres) the Commanding officer and three QRT (quick response team) personnel lost their lives on the spot. The family of the Commanding officer (wife and 6 yr old son) also lost their lives. The other injured personnel were admitted at Behianga health care center," Assam Rifles said in a press statement.
However, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who promised "justice" to the affected families, indicated one more personnel of the force had died.
"The cowardly attack on an Assam Rifles convoy in Churachandpur, Manipur is extremely painful & condemnable. The nation has lost 5 brave soldiers including CO 46 AR and two family members. My condolences to the bereaved families. The perpetrators will be brought to justice soon," he tweeted.
Though the defence minister's tweet indicated one more personnel was killed, there was no immediate confirmation from Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country raised in 1835 under the British rule.
It is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but operational control of the Indian Army.
Assam Rifles euologised the slain officer who had previously served in Mizoram until his transfer to Manipur in July 2021.
"During his tenure at Mizoram, under his able and energetic leadership, the Battalion has been at the forefront in Border management thwarting illegal smuggling in the IMB and hinterland. Battalion has also recovered several weapons & War like stores which could have landed in the hands of Anti National elements thus avoiding major casualties.
"Col Viplav though his remarkable endeavors has bonded closely with the locals of Mizoram. The Anti Drug campaign conducted by his battalion in January 2021 received several laurels and praise & the awareness was rightfully created by him in the entire state including the remote villages to ensure the youth are guided in the right direction," the statement said, adding his "goodwill for the society will last an eternity".
The Assam Rifles statement said it suspected that the insurgent group responsible for this massacre "must be from PREPAK cadre as the PREPAK remembrance day is celebrated on 12/13 November 2021".
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