Over 2,423 tribals, including women and children, belonging to Reang tribe in Mizoram, have taken shelter in Tripura, officials said in Agartala on Monday.

“Over 2,423 men, women and children comprising 368 families late Sunday evening took shelter in four villages in Tripura,” a Tripura relief department official told IANS.

He said: “Civil and top police officials of Tripura government have rushed to the areas and officials from Mizoram government are expected to come to persuade the refugees to return their villages.”

Tension was prevailing in Reang-dominated villages in Mamit district of western Mizoram over the kidnapping of three people on November 23, 2013, by the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) militants aided by suspected Reang militants.

Among the three kidnapped was a Kolkata-based telecommunications professional. Two Mizoram-based drivers of private vehicles were also kidnapped.

“Mizo students and youths have begun a mass voluntary search operation to rescue the kidnapped people. Several local NGOs fixed a deadline (January 15) to secure release the hostages. Tribal families apparently feared a repeat of the 1997 ethnic violence and fled,” a refugee leader told reporters.

The fresh influx of tribals has taken place after over 250 Reang tribals, who fled to Tripura from nearby western Mizoram last week, returned to their homes following persuasion of Tripura and Mizoram government officials.