Tension is mounting at the border town of Moreh in Manipur following an indefinite strike by the Meitei Committee Moreh (MCM) and the women vigilantes from Wednesday night.

The strike is against the attempts by some Kuki tribal militants to kidnap office-bearers of the MCM.

The MCM leaders told journalists that on Tuesday night the Kuki militants, armed with sophisticated guns raided all the houses of MCM office-bearers. When they could not locate the leaders, they told their families that if any cadre of the outfit was killed in the valley districts, the MCM leaders would be targeted.

Under the Suspension of Operations agreement signed between the militants and the Union government, the Kuki tribals are barred from moving around with weapons and cannot indulge in insurgent activities.

The MCM leaders said that on receiving information that the militants were looking for them, they had informed the security forces.

It is alleged that nothing was done to nab the militants. The women vigilantes said that if the MCM leaders had not exercised restraint there might have been some untoward incidents.

As a result of the wild cat strike, hundreds of tourists and visiting traders have been stranded. Shops have pulled down shutters and there is no vehicular traffic.

Police reports said that patrolling has been intensified to ensure peace in this shanty border town, which is the centre of the legalised border trade with Myanmar.

No arrests have been made so far.

The strike comes on the heels of the kidnapping of a trader in Imphal by some Kuki militants for a ransom of Rs.10 lakh. Though the wife of the trader had paid Rs.2 lakh after much haggling, he was not set free.

Troopers of 23 Assam Rifles had rescued the trader after a 10-minute exchange of fire with the militants.

Some Kukis were arrested and extortion letters and incriminating documents recovered from them, the police said.