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Pti

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.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also condemned the incident. 

"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". 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the attack and expressed his condolences to the bereaved families

PM Modi's Twitter post read: "Strongly condemn the attack on the Assam Rifles convoy in Manipur. I pay homage to those soldiers and family members who have been martyred today. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of sadness."

BJP's National Vice President Baijayant Jay Panda condemned the terrorist attack. He Tweeted: "I strongly condemn the devious terrorist attack on an Assam Rifles convoy in Manipur. The perpetrators of such violence & their sponsors will be punished. My prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured & deepest condolences to the bereaved families.."

 

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condemned the attack and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured while expressing condolences for the bereaved families of the soldiers martyred in the attack. 

"Strongly condemn the dastardly attack on #AssamRifles convoy in #Manipur. My condolences for the bereaved families of the bravehearts and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured," he Tweeted.

Later in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind condemning the terrorist attack, he Tweeted: "The attack on the Assam Rifles convoy that led to martyrdom of our soldiers and family members in Manipur deserves unreserved condemnation. This cowardly act reaffirms our resolve to root out terror in all its forms and manifestations. We stand united with the bereaved families."

Union Home Minister Amit Shah deeply anguished over the incident, Tweeted: "Anguished over a cowardly attack on Assam Riffles convoy in Manipur. I express my deepest condolences to the bereaved families. The entire nation stands firmly with our valiant security forces. The sacrifices of our brave soldiers will not go in vain."

Militant Groups Claim Responsibility For Manipur Ambush

Two proscribed militant organisations claimed responsibility for the ambush on an Assam Rifles team, in which seven people including a commander and his family members were killed, in Manipur on Saturday.

In a joint statement, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Manipur Naga People's Front (MNPF) claimed that they have carried out the attack on the paramilitary force at Sehkan village in Churachandpur district.

Colonel Viplav Tripathi, the Commanding Officer of Khuga Battalion of Assam Rifles, his wife and six-year-old son, besides four personnel of the force were killed in the attack.

(With Inputs From Nitesh Kumar)

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