Two senior priests in Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district sustained injuries when a group of masked men attacked them inside a church early on Wednesday, ransacked the premises and escaped with over Rs 1 lakh in cash, a senior police officer said.
This was the fourth such instance of dacoity in Garo Hills churches in the past one month, and police suspect it to be the handiwork of one and the same gang, he said.
"Around 1 am, the unidentified goons, around 20 in number, entered Dominic Savio Mission here during a power cut, tied up Rev Fr Thomas John and Daniel M Sangma, and attacked them with iron rods.
"They then ransacked the church and fled with Rs 1.25 lakh in cash and two smartphones," Superintendent of Police MGR Kumar said.
An FIR has been filed in the case and a team of officers are investigating into the matter, he said.
"According to the FIR filed by the authorities of the Dominic Savio Mission, John Mathias M Marak, another parish priest, sounded alarm when he saw the miscreants. Soon after, they fled the church," Mr Kumar said.
The SP also maintained that the modus operandi of the four recent attacks in the Garo Hills region looks "very similar".
"Three cases of dacoity have been earlier reported from Dawagre in East Garo Hills, Chokpot in South Garo Hills and Dalu in the west. We are very close to a breakthrough, and, hopefully, the miscreants will be arrested soon," he added.