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The Coordination Committee, (CorCom) of six militant outfits comprising the Kangleipak Communist Party, Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Progressive), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, United National Liberation Front and the Revolutionary Peoples Front, have claimed responsibility for the attack on Assam Rifles jawans on Sunday last. The CorCom stated this in a release to the media which said that the attack was carried out by the joint fighting force of the group under the operational command of its joint military commission.

On Sunday armed militants ambushed a convoy of 29 Assam Rifles led by its commanding officer Col Rajeev Ranjan at Joupi region of Chandel district. Six personnel, including a junior commission officer and five jawans, died on the spot. Seven other personnel were injured.

The operation codenamed Operation Yenning, the statement said the joint operation was in response to the voice of the people that sought “unity” of the groups operating in Manipur. The release vowed to continue such “successful” operations in the future as well.

The groups are fighting for restoration of Manipur’s freedom, which, once a princely state, became a part of the Indian Union on October 29, 1949. The statement further stated that the attackers snatched six weapons and that the attack was in retaliation to the harassment meted out to villagers. This was vehemently denied by the Assam Rifles.

Search operations are on in the jungles of Chandel district but so far no arrest or encounter between the search parties and militants have been reported.

Terming the attack a big step forward in their struggle, the statement said those who had participated in the attack safely reached their bases and they were given a warm reception at their “war office.”

The CorCom statement came a day after army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh, accompanied by Lt Gen. Praveen Bakshi, Eastern Command, visited the site of the ambush, during which the army top brass instructed troops deployed at the area to take strong action against the attackers.

This is the first joint operation by the CorCom against security forces. Earlier, military wings of the six groups worked in isolation and targeted security forces separately.

Political observers see this joint operation by militant outfits as a serious challenge to the security forces deployed in the hill districts of Manipur to contain militancy.

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