GNLA rebels, security forces exchange fire in poll-bound Meghalaya
Shillong, Feb 6 : The Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebels and security forces were locked in an hour-long gunfight Wednesday that ended with the guerrillas retreating into the forests in Meghalaya's East Garo Hills district, police said.
Although there were no casualties on the security forces' side, police are yet to confirm if any of the rebels were injured.
The gunfight began after security forces came under fire from the GNLA rebels at Bolchugre village around 6 a.m.
"Firing lasted for about an hour and the militants were forced to retreat into the jungle," J.F.K. Marak, police chief of East Garo Hills, told IANS.
Security forces had launched a search operation in the area last week. "The combing operation will continue in the area to flush them out," Marak said.
Preparations are on for the Feb 23 assembly elections in Meghalaya.
The GNLA, which is headed by police officer-turned-outlaw Champion R. Sangma, is fighting for a separate Garoland which they demand be carved out of Meghalaya's five impoverished districts of Garo Hills.
Champion was arrested July 30 near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya.