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Apr 20, 2009 at 10:27am IST

Five militants gunned down in Assam

Guwahati: Five militants were killed in a gunbattle with army soldiers in Assam early on Monday. A large quantity of weapons and explosives were recovered from the militants, a defence spokesperson said.

The gunbattle began on Sunday midnight and continued for about three hours near Akabasti village near Tezpur town, about 185 km north of Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"A group of about five militants were camping in a house in the village with a specific mission to kidnap a well-known businessman for ransom," defence spokesperson R Kalia said.

FLASHPOINT: The scene of gunbattle is about 185 km north of Guwahati.

Security forces got wind of the plan and laid an ambush.

"There was a firefight for about three hours in which five militants were killed," the official said.

Three of the dead rebels belonged to the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), while the other two were from the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Asom (MULTA).

"It was a collective plan by the NDFB and the MULTA to kidnap the businessman," Kalia said.

The NDFB is a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland for the Bodo tribe in Assam although the group is now operating a ceasefire with New Delhi, while the MULTA is a rag-tag Islamist separatist group active in certain pockets of Assam since 1996.

"Five kilograms of explosives, 10 detonators and some other arms and ammunition were recovered from the dead militants," the army official said.