Hundreds of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in Nagaland on Tuesday after six people were killed in clashes between rival tribal separatist groups, both of which operate ceasefires with New Delhi.
"Security forces have now been sent to the area to bring the situation under control. We are still not out of the woods," said L.L. Doungel, deputy inspector general of Nagaland Police.
He said heavily armed militants of the Isak Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) clashed in two separate places with cadres of the rival group headed by S.S. Khaplang.
"In one incident, NSCN-IM militants attacked and killed three members of the rival Khaplang group. In retaliatory strikes, cadres of the NSCN-Khaplang faction killed three of their rival members," Doungel said.
The official said a group of armed NSCN-K rebels attacked and killed three NSCN-IM cadres near Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial hub on Monday. On Sunday, NSCN-IM rebels raided a village near Zunheboto town, about 180 km north of state capital Kohima, killing three rival cadres.
"Armed NSCN-IM rebels shot dead three members of the rival faction and then attacked the residence of Kitovi Zhimomi, the general secretary of the Khaplang faction," another senior police official said. At least half-a-dozen rebel cadres of the Khaplang faction were injured in the attack.
"They (NSCN-IM) also shot at the legs of a civilian and set ablaze five houses belonging to local villagers in an incident near Dimapur," Kughalo Mulatonu, a senior NSCN-Khaplang leader, told the media.
Both the NSCN factions are operating a ceasefire with New Delhi - the NSCN-IM is holding peace talks after the group entered into a truce in 1997. The NSCN-Khaplang is yet to begin formal talks with New Delhi although the group signed a ceasefire pact with the central government in 2001.
"The attacks are nothing but a gross violation of the ceasefire ground rules and vindicates our stand that the Nagaland government is in hand in glove with the NSCN-IM," Mulatonu said.
The two warring factions are engaged in a bitter fratricidal war for territorial supremacy with at least 200 cadres killed during the past five years.
"The frequent clashes do not bode well for the future of ongoing peace process. People want peace and an end to all forms of bloodshed and killings," said N. Krome, president of the Naga Hoho, the apex tribal council in Nagaland.
The violent insurgency in Nagaland has claimed around 25,000 lives since the country's independence in 1947.