After Manipur, Kuki groups caught in Myanmar civil war 

Gunbattle was reported between Myanmar Army and combined forces of People’s Defence Force and Kuki National Army (Burma) about 1.5 km east of border post number 72

June 15, 2023 07:59 pm | Updated 07:59 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Unidentified miscreants torch two houses belonging to a particular community to retaliate the killing of nine civilians by Kuki militants, in Manipur on June 15, 2023.

Unidentified miscreants torch two houses belonging to a particular community to retaliate the killing of nine civilians by Kuki militants, in Manipur on June 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

GUWAHATI

After the ethnic conflict in Manipur, Kuki groups have reportedly been caught in the civil war in adjoining Myanmar. 

Indian security experts keeping a watch on the war-torn country said an intense gunbattle was reported between the Myanmar Army and the combined forces of the People’s Defence Force (PDF) and the Kuki National Army (Burma) about 1.5 km east of border post number 72. 

The post, one of several marking the India-Myanmar border, is near the Manipur border town of Moreh. The PDF is the armed wing of the pro-democracy National Unity Government in Myanmar. 

“The firefight started at 3.30 a.m. on June 15 near the 1st battalion of the PDF,” a message received by the security forces in India read. 

Bombs dropped

Security officials said two Myanmar fighter jets also dropped four bombs about 2.5 km east of Moreh at 8 a.m. on June 15. “The smoke plume was observed and sound heard from the Indian side of the border,” an official said. 

The last incidents of aerial bombardment by the Myanmar Army near the border with India were reported on April 21 and 27. On both occasions, Camp Victoria near Moreh was targeted. 

Camp Victoria is said to be a hideout of the Chin National Army. 

The Kuki National Army (KNA) was one of the 25 extremist groups of the Kuki-Zomi tribes that had agreed to a suspension of operations (SoO) in Manipur a few years ago. In March, the Manipur government withdrew from the SoO agreement with the KNA and the Zomi Revolutionary Army. 

The Kuki, Zomi, and Chin people are ethnically related. 

The Manipur Government and Meitei organisations based in the Imphal Valley hold the Kuki-Zomi extremist groups responsible for the ethnic clashes that have claimed more than 120 lives since May 3. The Kuki-Zomi groups have denied the allegations, insisting the tribal communities have been systematically targeted for ethnic cleansing. 

Infighting in Naga outfit 

Another war has been raging in Myanmar’s Sagaing region north of the zone of conflict between the Myanmar Army and the PDF-KNA (Burma) combine, Indian intelligence officials said. 

According to reports, emanating from Naga-inhabited areas of Myanmar across Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang-Yung Aung) have been engaged in a fratricidal battle for almost a fortnight now. 

Yung Aung, originally from Manipur, had taken over the Khaplang faction of the NSCN after its chief, Shangwang Shangyung Khaplang died in June 2017. 

Members of the NSCN (K-YA) have reportedly been divided into two groups — one operating out of the outfit’s general headquarters near Loiye village and the other based in its central headquarters near Nyanching village. An exchange of fire between the two groups was reported on June 5 and 13. 

Several Naga organisations including the Eastern Naga Students’ Association have warned of non-cooperation if the two groups do not exercise restraint. 

“The Naga people have had enough of factional war and killing among brothers,” the organisations said in a joint statement, asserting that those who die because of the “internal crisis” would not be recognised as having sacrificed for the “Naga national cause”. 

The cause refers to an ideology that supports the self-determination of the Naga people in India and Myanmar.  

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