At least 12 Naga rebels belonging to rival factions were killed following a fierce gunfight near Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial hub, on early Wednesday morning.
Officials said 10 of the dead belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Unification) while two were cadres of the Isak-Muivah faction. NSCN (U), believed to be an arm of the NSCN (Khaplang), was formed in October last after some 600 Sumi tribal members broke away from the NSCN (I-M).
According to Dimapur police chief L Lotha, at least a dozen militants were killed following a four-hour battle with automatic weapons at Seitikhima, 15 km from Dimapur. "We have deployed our men to bring the area under control," he said. The militants are believed to have retreated to their camps.
Wednesday's was the second major fratricidal fight between the rival NSCN factions in the space of 20 days. Last month, NSCN (I-M) rebels allegedly killed 18 members of the NSCN (U) near the same village. The latter, in turn, has been targeting members of the Tangkhul community, which dominates the NSCN (I-M). Officials in Nagaland said the wave of fratricide has claimed at least 55 lives since March.
The NSCN was formed in 1980. It split eight years later, when Burmese Naga rebel leader SS Khaplang fell out with the main group led by Thuingaleng Muivah and Issac Chisi Swu.