The incident occurred less than 36 hours of the same rebel group gunning down seven innocent villagers in the adjoining Goalpara district in Assam. Meghalaya DGP Peter James Pynrope Hanaman, who confirmed that the militants belonged to the GNLA, described it as an act of retaliation of the rebels against the ongoing operations against them.
"It is definitely a retaliatory attack by the GNLA in view of the operations that the security forces have launched against them in the past few days. But I must admit there was some degree of complacency on the part of the policemen killed in the attack," DGP Hanaman told The Indian Express over the telephone from Shillong.
The police vehicle was on its way from Baghmara police station in South Garo Hills district to Tura (in West Garo Hills district) to bring an accused when it came under heavy fire at Bangjakona near Kapasipara, the DGP said. The incident occurred in the hilly area at around 11 am.
While all the five police personnel including the driver were killed on the spot before they could retaliate, the militants also snatched away their weapons that included three AK-series rifles and one carbine, the DGP said.
The victims have been identified as havaldar Dondiram Marak and constables Rakki Sangma, Lekichyne Ryngklem, Bipul Rabha and Marshanstar Nongdhar.
Security forces meanwhile have launched a massive operation in the area, but no breakthrough was made till late Tuesday evening. "The militant outfit has been in a disarray due to intensified operations by security forces in the past few months, and today's ambush was in retaliation to these operations," the DGP said.
Meanwhile, the police and security forces have also intensified operations along the Assam-Meghalaya border in Goalpara and adjoining districts of the Garo Hills in view of Sunday's attack by suspected GNLA militants in a village on the Assam side leaving seven persons dead.