In a major blow to the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), the deputy commander in chief of the rebel group was killed in an encounter with security forces in William Nagar on Thursday.
GNLA deputy commander-in-chief Matchallang M Sangma alias Vietnam was gunned down by a joint team of Army and Meghalaya police during an encounter at Bawe Duragre village, around 10 kms from William Nagar in East Garo Hills district.
“He (Matchallang) was taking direct orders from Sohan D Shira and was very close to him. His killing is a severe blow to the GNLA and the writing is clear on the wall for the GNLA,” The Shillong Times quoted Meghalaya DGP S B Singh as saying.
Hailing from Nengmaldalgre village, close to the home of Sohan Shira, the action commander was operating in and around Bawe Duragre area for the past few days. The armed rebels numbering 13 were staying in a makeshift camp in the forests when police launched a raid leading to his killing, according to The Shillong Times.
The operations continued to locate a few cadres who are believed to have sustained bullet injuries in the heavy exchange of fire that lasted for several minutes.
“The encounter continued around 20 minutes and for some of the militants who sustained injuries managed to escape. We are on the lookout for them,” East Garo Hills SP, R T G Mominn said.
An AK-56 rifle with live ammunition and Chinese grenades, three kgs of gelatin sticks besides somes explosive substance were found on the slain militant.
Following the mass surrenders of top leaders of the outfit, GNLA chief Sohan D Shira had appointed Matchallang as the action commander and promoted him as deputy commander-in-chief.
Police sources said he was involved various subversive activities including extortions and kidnapping in Garo Hills.