Nine killed in Meghalaya blast; Sangma calls up Rajnath for assistance to tackle militant attacks

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Shillong, January 11: A powerful improvised explosive device was detonated outside a wine store at the centre of the market in Meghalaya during peak trading time on Saturday noon leading to nine civilians sustaining injuries. Among the nine people who sustained injuries four are said to be serious and have been taken to Tura civil hospital together with another minor injury victim for treatment.The prime accused in the attack during the weekly market day is the banned Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) which operates from its strongholds in the Durama Hills, across the Simsang river. According to eyewitness accounts, Saturday being a weekly market day people were purchasing essential items from the stores when the IED hidden in a bag and placed outside Warimong wine store at the centre of the market exploded with a deafening sound at around 12:45 pm.

The store belongs to a prominent businessman from Williamnagar identified as Winderson R Sangma. The impact from the blast was such that the wine store was totally destroyed with even its roof being blown off and a stop attendant inside sustaining serious injuries, news agency The Shillong Times reported.

The other victims were reportedly passing through the area when the explosion took place. Some of the victims were thrown to the ground due to the impact of the blast and remained there before locals with support from the police lifted them and rushed them to the Williamnagar civil hospital for emergency treatment.According to senior police officials, the militants triggered the IED blast to send a message across to the business community. GNLA area commander of Williamnagar, Ajan Ch Momin alias Jimmy is accused of dispatching a cadre to the town to place the IED on the orders of their military chief Sohan D Shira.

The attack comes less than a week after North Garo Hills police intercepted a Tura registered Bolero vehicle in Bajengdoba area and recovered over a thousand gelatine sticks and electronic detonators that are used for IEDs which were reportedly sent by the ULFA for the GNLA.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who called up Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh following the IED blast at Williamnagar, has urged the Centre to pay heed to the request of the state government for providing assistance to augment its resources to tackle militants waging war against the State, even as proscribed GNLA has denied involvement in the blast.

“I have taken up with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on various issues pending in his office with regards to the security concerns of Meghalaya,” the Chief Minister said. According to him, the response of Home Minister was positive. “He is aware of the situation and I am confident that he will address our needs and requirements in the near future,” the Chief Minister said

In his telephonic conversation with the Union Home Minister, Sangma said that Meghalaya and the entire Northeast remains prone to various acts of destabilisation by “anti national forces” and that the Centre needs to address it with urgency. The Chief Minister said, “Many forces and agencies are working against the interests of the nation and we need to be alert at all times and for that, we also need to be properly equipped. Some of our proposals are lying with the finance ministry and, I have requested Home Minister to clear the pending proposals which he had promised to examine”.

Earlier, the Chief Minister in a statement has condemned the attack by the anti-national forces on the innocent people at Williamnagar. According to the Chief Minister, the cowardly act needs to be condemned by all citizens of the state.

Meanwhile, GNLA has denied its involvement in the blast. The GNLA publicity secretary Gantong Ch Marak issued a press statement on Saturday night denying the involvement of his armed organization in the explosion. “We have no hand in Williamnagar blast. Accusation put on us by police is erroneous. We condemn such devious act. We don’t have intention of harming innocent people by such dastardly act. Unnecessarily spilling blood of innocents is against our working policies,” claimed the GNLA secretary Gantong Marak in his communiqué.

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