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Tribal rebels kill four in Nagaland

Tribal separatists in Nagaland, on a ceasefire pact with New Delhi, have killed four members of a rival faction and wounded many more in fierce gunfights.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2007 18:10 IST

Tribal separatists in Nagaland - on a ceasefire pact with New Delhi - have killed four members of a rival faction and wounded many more in fierce gunfights in the last two days, police officials said on Tuesday.

Heavily armed militants of the Isak Muivah (IM) faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) late on Sunday attacked and killed three cadres of a rival group headed by SS Khaplang near Zunheboto town, 180 km north of state capital Kohima, a police spokesman said.

"Armed NSCN-IM rebels shot dead three members of the rival faction and then attacked the home of Kitovi Zhimomi, the general secretary of the Khaplang faction," a police official said.

At least six members of the Khaplang faction were injured in the attack.

In another attack on Monday night, armed NSCN-IM rebels shot dead a member of the rival group near Dimapur, Nagaland's commercial hub.

"They (NSCN-IM) also shot at the legs of a civilian and set ablaze five houses of local villagers," Kughalo Mulatonu, an NSCN-Khaplang leader said.

Both the NSCN factions are operating a ceasefire with New Delhi. The NSCN-IM group is holding peace talks after it entered 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 Indian government in 2001.

"The attacks are nothing but gross violation of the ceasefire ground rules and vindicates our stand that the Nagaland government is 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 the ongoing peace process. People in general want peace and an end to all forms of bloodshed and killings," said N Krome, the president of the Naga Hoho - the apex tribal council in Nagaland.

Tribal leaders allege that the government has failed to restrain the two NSCN factions from attacking each other.

"There is a ceasefire on and no one should be allowed to roam around with weapons. It seems the government has failed to control the situation," Krome said.

"We are doing our best to reach out to the two sides and help bridge the differences in the interests of peace in the region," he added.

Authorities have warned of harsh action against the NSCN-IM.

"We have sent reinforcements to Zunheboto and Dimapur to ease tensions and bring the situation under control," a police official said.

The violent insurgency in Nagaland has claimed 25,000 lives since the country's independence in 1947.