At least 12 people, including nine Hindi-speaking migrant workers, were killed by separatists and up to 70 houses set ablaze in two separate incidents in restive northeast's Assam and Manipur states, officials said on Tuesday.
A police spokesperson said nine Hindi-speaking people were killed late on Monday inside the Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur's Bishenpur district, about 14 km south of the state capital Imphal.
"We have recovered five bodies so far from a marshy land inside the park and search operations are on to get the bodies of four more people who are believed to have been killed by some militant groups," Bishenpur district police chief Jayanta Singh said.
Police were tipped off by local villagers that 12 people were taken blindfolded inside the park by heavily armed militants on Monday evening.
"We understand from locals that three managed to escape from the clutches of the militants. The hands of all the dead people were tied from behind and their mouths gagged and were presumably killed with some sharp and crude objects," Singh said.
The identities of the victims were not immediately known, but police suspect that all of them were Hindi speaking people.
The immediate provocation for the attack was not known but of late there has been an attack on Hindi speakers in Manipur - five of them were killed in February in separate incidents.
"The area where the incident took place is infested with a number of rebel groups and so it would be very difficult to pinpoint one single group for the attack," Singh said.
There are some 19-odd militant groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.
In another incident in adjoining Assam late Monday, three tribal villagers were killed and a cluster of huts torched by armed separatists in the southern district of North Cachar Hills, about 320 km from the state's main city of Guwahati.
"A group of militants attacked two Naga villages and started indiscriminate firing in which three people were killed. The militants later set ablaze about 70 houses before leaving the area," a senior police official said.
The North Cachar Hills district is witnessing frequent attacks by militants belonging to the Dima Haolam Daogah or more popularly known as the Black Widow. At least 10 people were killed and more than 150 houses set ablaze in separate incidents in the past two weeks.