The untimely death of four soldiers and the commanding officer of 46 Assam Rifles along with his eight-year-old son and wife in an ambush by militants in Manipur’s Singhat on Saturday has sent shockwaves across India. While the investigation into the matter is underway, sources say that the Indian army is keeping a close watch on the Myanmar border to ensure the militants behind the attack don’t escape.

The attack happened about 3 km from Deheng, the army said in a statement. Four others who were injured in the incident were taken to Behiang Primary Health Centre in a critical condition. Two others have sustained minor injuries.

Manipur-based People’s Liberation Army is suspected to be behind the attack. However, no militant organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

The commanding officer has been identified as Colonel Viplav Tripathi, who was “returning from one of his Coy posts in Myanmar border" when the attack took place at around 10 am in Churachandpur district, close to the border.

An official that among the dead, four were from the Quick Response Team. Sources say heavily armed militants intercepted the QRT near Sehken village and opened fire. The terrorists first carried out IED blast to ambush the convoy, army sources said. Colonel Tripathi’s driver was also killed in the ambush, sources said. Sources say a UBGL was used to hit Col Tripathi’s car which was followed by small arms fire.

“Very rare for North East insurgents to target families. This is a declaration of war," an officer said while describing the dastardly attack.

The attack was condemned by PM Narendra Modi. “I pay homage to those soldiers and family members who have been martyred today. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of sadness," he said in a tweet.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh condoled the deaths and promised justice. “The cowardly attack on an Assam Rifles convoy in Churachandpur, Manipur is extremely painful & condemnable. The nation has lost 5 brave soldiers including CO 46 AR and two family members. My condolences to the bereaved families. The perpetrators will be brought to justice soon," he said in a tweet.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said a mass combing operation has been launched in the entire area. “The attackers came from across the border from Myanmar. We will hit back. Communication has been established with the Centre," he said.