Shillong: A policeman was shot dead and three of his colleagues critically wounded in a gunbattle with rebels in a forest area in Meghalaya's South Garo Hills district bordering Bangladesh, police said on Wednesday.

The gunbattle, which lasted for nearly an hour, began when a group of heavily armed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebels fired at the police team patrolling Chilpara village near the Gasuapara Land Custom Station on Tuesday night.

"A group of heavily armed ULFA and GNLA militants assembled atop a hill in Chilpara village and fired at police personnel out on night patrolling," Davis Marak, district police chief of South Garo Hills said.

"The rebels fired at our team from the hilltop forcing our men to retaliate. One of our men was killed on the spot while three others are critically wounded," Marak said.

The GNLA, one of five Garo rebel groups, is fighting for a separate Garoland in the three districts of Garo Hills. It is headed by police officer-turned-outlaw Champion R. Sangma.

The outfit is believed to have links with the ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). More than 30 people, including security personnel, have been killed by the GNLA in the last one year.


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