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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Army major killed in Assam
Troops and separatist rebels have been involved in fierce fighting in a village in India's north-eastern state of Assam, officials said.

At least one army major and three rebels were killed.

The clash happened when a group of young Assamese men were challenged as they left Neogpara village in Assam's central district of Darrang.

Officials said the rebels belonged to the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

Major IS Babbar was fatally wounded in an exchange of fire which lasted nearly 90 minutes.

Three of the suspected rebels were killed and others escaped. Three soldiers were also injured.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik says one of those killed was a self-styled lieutenant of the ULFA, Ajit Saikia.

Security forces have started patrolling heavily along Assam's borders with Bhutan, where the ULFA has a number of bases but is under increasing pressure to leave.




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