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PLA Militant Also Injured in Manipur Ambush That Killed 7, Outfit Planning More Attacks Before Polls: Intel Inputs

A militant from the Manipur-based People’s Liberation Army was injured in the insurgent group’s attack on a convoy of the 46 Assam Rifles last week, in which the battalion’s Commanding Officer, wife and son, and four soldiers were killed.

As per latest intelligence inputs, the injured militant was part of the team within the Imphal valley-based Meitei separatist group that laid the ambush. The exact location of the militant, however, is not known at present, but speculation puts him in Manipur’s Churachandpur district, where the attack unfolded, or in the adjoining Chin state of Myanmar.

Saturday’s ambush in Churachandpur district had led to the deaths of Colonel Viplav Tripathi, his wife and six-year-old son apart from four other soldiers of the Quick Response Team when they were returning to their base from a visit to a forward location. The People’s Liberation Army and another insurgent group called the Manipur Naga People’s Front (MNPF) had jointly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sources said Colonel Tripathi’s convoy was ambushed by seven improvised explosive devices (IEDs), followed by a gunfight between the troops and the militants.

Inputs further suggest that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is likely planning more such attacks by way of planting IEDs on routes taken by security forces. Other insurgent outfits such as the MNPF and People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) are also suspected to be planning similar attacks on security forces in the near future.

A separate intelligence input indicated that the PLA may target security forces in the run-up to the Assembly elections, particularly those deployed to guard the porous India-Myanmar border, including in Churachandpur, Chandel and Ukhrul. These outfits have in the past too timed attacks on security forces to coincide with state elections.

In 2015, a military convoy in Manipur’s Chandel was attacked, killing 18 men of the Indian Army’s Dogra battalion. This was the last major attack carried out by insurgents in the state.

The PLA was founded in September 25, 1978 by N Bisheshwar as a breakaway faction of the United National Liberation Front with the aim of Manipur’s secession from India.

Cadres of the People’s Liberation Army and other splinter groups have continued to remain active over the years and operate out of camps based in Myanmar. The outfit, along with other Meitei insurgent groups, has never come to the table for any peace talks with India, nor has any ceasefire agreement been signed with the Indian government.

In a recent interview to News18.com, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said that the insurgent groups take advantage of porous borders with Myanmar, where the areas are forested and thinly populated, to carry out attacks from across the border.

He had said that the insurgent groups should come forward for talks, adding that government was working towards bringing them to the negotiating table. “Talks are the only solution and there is no place for violence,” he had said.