Suspected extremists kill 5 in Assam’s Dima Hasao

Dimasa National Liberation Army believed to be behind attack.

Suspected extremists killed five people and set seven trucks on fire at Umrangso in central Assam’s Dima Hasao district late on August 26.

The district police said a group of armed men stopped the trucks between 8.30 p.m. and 9 p.m. and fired several volleys at them from automatic rifles. Six trucks were loaded with cement bags and one was carrying coal.

“The group fired at them for a few minutes. The five killed are drivers and handymen of the trucks,” Dima Hasao Superintendent of Police Jayant Singh said.

Three others were injured, while seven drivers and helpers managed to escape, police said.

Members of the Dimasa National Liberation Front (DNLA) are suspected to be behind the attack, the first such attack since May 14 when two were killed in a grenade blast in eastern Assam’s Digboi.

The DNLA is believed to have targeted these trucks linked to a cement factory that had refused to pay “tax” to the outfit.

Formed in April 2019 to seek an independent nation for the Dimasa community, the DNLA became active towards the end of 2020. It came on the radar of the security forces on January 12 following the arrest of a member in Dima Hasao’s Maibang.

On January 27, the outfit killed Amit Nunisa, a social activist and former leader of the disbanded Dima Halam Daogah, and on March 2, a member of the DNLA was caught with a Chinese grenade near a strategic railway station in Karbi Anglong district.

The DNLA received its first setback on March 28 when its leader Black Dimasa was killed in an encounter. On May 23, the security forces gunned down six of its members in the adjoining Karbi Anglong district. The trigger for an intensified operation leading to the May 23 encounter was the May 19 killing of a priest named Sanjay Ronghang by the DNLA.

Intelligence officials say the DNLA is being propped up by the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland as a front to carry out extortion in Assam.

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