Top ULFA leader killed in Assam shoot-out

September 12th, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Sept 12 (IANS) The death of a top leader of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) Friday in a shoot-out with army soldiers in Assam has triggered angry reaction with pro-talks rebel leaders in a ceasefire mode accusing the security forces of killing him in a fake gun battle.Army officials said Shasanka Baruah, a leader of the Bravo company of ULFA’s 28th battalion, one of the most potent striking units of the outfit, was killed in a gun battle in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Baruah was challenged by army soldiers and was asked to surrender, but he tried to flee and fired indiscriminately, prompting retaliatory fire from security forces in which he was shot dead, an army commander said, requesting anonymity.

But leaders of the pro-talks ULFA faction, currently in a ceasefire mode, accused the army of killing him in cold blood.

“The death of Baruah is a conspiracy on the part of the army to derail the peace process as he was in touch with us and was planning to join the ceasefire process,” said pro-talks leader Jiten Dutta.

The A and C companies of ULFA’s 28th battalion in June declared a unilateral ceasefire with the government, although the Bravo company of the outfit is still underground.

Meanwhile, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa in a statement blamed the pro-talks group of eliminating Baruah in connivance with the army.

The ULFA chairman also expelled Prabal Neog, a senior pro-talks leader, from the outfit on charges of colluding with the army in killing Baruah.

There are fears now that this could be the beginning of a fratricidal clash between the pro-talk and anti-talk ULFA factions.

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