At least three men, including a policeman, were killed in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district after a gunfight erupted between security forces and armed miscreants who were attacking hill villages, police and army officials said on Thursday. Several others were injured. A defence source said the attack was “premeditated” as they had received inputs on Wednesday night about miscreants planning violence.
Head Constable Lenglam Dimngel was on duty at Haraothel village in the hills when he was killed.
The deaths come after a lull of 16-days in violence-hit Manipur. While there were sporadic incidents of arson and vandalism, no killings were reported since June 13.
Ethnic violence between the Kuki and Meitei community that erupted on May 3 has claimed 133 lives so far.
The Army said there was “unprovoked firing by armed rioters” towards Haraothel village around 5.30 am on Thursday.
Army said in a tweet that troops deployed in the area were immediately mobilised to prevent escalation of situation and while they were on way to the incident site “(army) columns drew effective fire from armed rioters.”
“Own troops responded in a calibrated manner to prevent any collateral damage. Swift action by troops resulted in cessation of firing. Additional columns moved to the area. Unconfirmed reports indicate some casualties. Buildup of large crowds in the area also reported. Situation being closely monitored and further details will follow,” Army’s Spear Corps tweeted.
Kangokpi Superintendent of Police Manoj Prabhakar M told The Hindu that two persons were dead in the incident. “The body of one of the persons was found in the hills, it was retrieved and handed over to the police. The other person succumbed to injuries in hospital,” Mr. Prabhakar said. A police official said the deceased were residents of Imphal East. Women’s groups blocked the movement of additional security forces but the situation was brought under control. A few home in Bethel village, a Kuki settlement, were razed during the incident.
Army columns and Assam Rifles are deployed here. “As soon as the firing was reported, army deployed at National Sports University and K Munlai, rushed from two ends to the incident site and there was heavy exchange of fire with the armed rioters. Army was fired upon on both sides,” a defence source said adding that intermittent firing took place till late evening.
The army tweeted that around 4 pm, troops deployed in the area heard firing from East of village K Munlai. “Further, at approx 5.15 PM, exchange of fire was reported from direction of Village Bethel, South of National Sports University. Own columns are dominating the area to de-escalate the situation,” army said.
It added that “buildup of mob in the area to interfere with operations by Security Forces effectively controlled.”