Fresh violence in Manipur kills 5, including cop, injures 12
The development came on a day when the Manipur government said that at least 40 Kuki armed militants have been killed by security forces in the last four days.
Guwahati/Kolkata: At least five people, including a policeman, were killed and 12 injured after fresh violence erupted in Manipur, where instances of firing on civilians, militant groups and security forces were reported from various places, particularly in the Imphal valley, government officials said on Sunday.
The development came on a day when the Manipur government led by chief minister N Biren Singh said that at least 40 Kuki armed militants have been killed by security forces in the last four days during a coordinated operation.
Since May 3, Manipur has been in the grip of ethnic clashes that broke out following the tribal solidarity march organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. At least 79 people have been killed in the clashes so far.
A senior government official told HT over the phone that in some of the fresh clashes, militant groups — branded “terrorists” by the state government — were carrying automatic assault rifles, making the situation in the northeastern state even more precarious.
According to officials, one person died and another sustained bullet injury after suspected Kuki militants opened fire at Phayeng in Imphal West district. One police officer was killed and another injured at Sugnu in Kakching district, officials said, adding that six civilians were also injured in the violence.
Details of other casualties in the fresh clashes in the northeastern are being ascertained, officials said.
On Sunday morning, a mob allegedly torched houses of Kuki community members in five villages at Sugnu in Kakching district. There were reports that army personnel were stopped by local residents from entering the affected villages at the time of violence, a senior official said, requesting anonymity.
In another incident, the house of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Kh Raghumani Singh was vandalised by a mob, allegedly comprising of members of the Meitei community, at Uripok in Imphal West district. “Two people were injured and the police had to lob tear gas shells to disperse the crowd,” a local resident said, also declining to be named.
Following the fresh violence, curfew hours in both Imphal West and Imphal East districts, which were earlier relaxed for the day from 5am to 4pm, were shortened to 11.30am. In Bishnupur, relaxation in curfew from 5am to 2pm was shortened to 12pm on Sunday, officials said.
Another senior official said that clashes broke out in the early hours of Sunday between rival ethnic militant groups as well as between militants and security forces at several places.
“According to our information, firing has been reported from Sugnu in Kakching, Kangvi in Churachandpur, Kangchup in Imphal West, Sagolmang in Imphal East, Nungoipokpi in Bishenpur, Khurkhul in Imphal West and YKPI in Kangpokpi,” the official added.
At Napat, Serou and nearby Sugnu in Kakching district, militants burnt down around 80 houses of Meitei community prompting villagers to flee in the wee hours on Sunday. Police personnel deployed in the area retaliated, leading to heavy exchange of fire, a police officer said.
Armed militants came down to Yaingangpokpi in Imphal East district, and torched two houses and fired upon villagers. At Sekmai, on the northern side of Manipur valley in Imphal West district, militants attacked some villages leading to an exchange of fire. In Bishnupur district, armed Kuki militants attacked Phougakchao Ikhai, Torbung and Kangvai areas on Saturday night, torching at least 30 houses belonging to Meitei community.