The outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) on Saturday abducted three road engineers of a Hyderabad-based road construction company in insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

Manoj Kumar, Deepak Kumar and A.K.Sharma, of the BSC-C & C (JV) road construction company, were kidnapped by a group of heavily armed GNLA rebels in East Garo Hills district, Inspector General of Police (western range) F.D. Sangma said.

The Hyderabad-based firm was awarded a contract to construct a two-lane 94 km road at an estimated Rs.1,494 crore to connect Shillong to Tura, the most important town in Garo Hills region via Nongstoin, the district headquarters of West Khasi Hills.

“A group of GNLA rebels waylaid their (engineers) vehicle at Dambu Aga Reserve Forest and kidnapped the three engineers at gunpoint while they proceeding to Assam,” Mr. Sangma told IANS.

Two other occupants of the vehicle, including the driver of the vehicle, who were freed unharmed, reported the incident to Rongmil police camp.

Mr. Sangma said the motive of the rebels to abduct the engineers was to made ransom demands.

Intelligence agencies and the state police officials said that the GNLA had earlier sent extortion demands amounting to crore of Rupee.

IANS was unable to reach to the BSC-C & C (JV) officials to confirm whether the outlawed Garo outfit had served any extortion note.

“The search operation is on to rescue the engineers from the clutches of the rebels but so far we have no inputs on the exact locations were the engineers have been put,” Mr. Sangma said.

On Friday, the Garo rebels abducted two prominent ginger businessmen — Inadul Islam and Mosa Bapari — at gunpoint in West Garo Hills district. The rebels have reportedly made ransom demand for their safe release.

Meanwhile, Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and Meghalaya’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos have been pressed into service to rescue the abducted people.

GNLA has been fighting for a separate Garoland in five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

Over 35 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 15 people were abducted for ransom in the area in the last year by GNLA rebels.

The GNLA has over 100 rebels, including a few women cadre. The outfit has reportedly procured a cache of HK 53 rifles and explosives to augment their arsenal.

The outfit has earlier attempted to extort huge sums of money, ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore, from government officials, ministers, legislators and businessmen.