2 kidnapped ONGC employees rescued after encounter near Indo-Myanmar border in Nagaland

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(Eds: Adding details) Guwahati, Apr 24 (PTI) Two employees of ONGC were rescued after an encounter near the Indo-Myanmar border in Nagaland on Saturday.

Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said the three employees of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) were kidnapped by suspected ULFA(I) militants from the Lakwa oilfield in Sivasagar district along the Assam-Nagaland border on Wednesday.

'An encounter took place in the forest of Mon district in Nagaland near the international border. Two ONGC employees have been rescued from there. A search operation for the third employee is on,' Mahanta told PTI.

The operation was carried out by a joint team of Nagaland Police, the Indian Army, and other paramilitary forces, who were supported by intelligence inputs from Assam Police, he added.

The rescued persons have been identified as Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia. The security agencies are looking out for Ritul Saikia, the DGP said.

A senior police official directly involved in the entire case said that the militants left one AK-series rifle and escaped from the scene after the encounter.

'It is clear that these were ULFA(I) militants. While fleeing from the scene, they could manage to take away Ritul Saikia with them. The border is about six to seven km from the site and it is not easy to cross as it is surrounded by dense forest,' he added.

The security agencies are carrying out an intense search and rescue operation to find out the third captive, the senior police officer said.

Meanwhile, the proscribed ULFA (I) in a press release E-mailed to media houses said, 'The security forces are silent on Ritul Saikia. We, therefore, suspect he may have fallen to their bullets or the security agencies are refraining from revealing his status for their own reasons'.

Claiming that the ULFA(I) and the NSCN are 'not responsible for the status of the third employee', Rumel Asom, publicity department member ofthe ULFA(I) in the press release accused the ONGC of 'being responsible for the entire incident and to be prepared to face consequences in the coming days'. PTI TR ESB MM MM