Elderly woman among three killed in attack on Kuki village

Tribal organisation in Manipur claims gunmen in Army fatigues opened fire at people in a village on the border between Kangpokpi and Imphal East districts

June 09, 2023 07:00 pm | Updated June 10, 2023 08:15 am IST - Guwahati

Security personnel conduct Joint Combing Operations in sensitive areas in both the Hills and Valley sectors of Manipur on June 9, 2023.

Security personnel conduct Joint Combing Operations in sensitive areas in both the Hills and Valley sectors of Manipur on June 9, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

A 67-year-old woman was among three people killed by “unidentified miscreants” in an attack on a Kuki village in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district early on Friday. 

Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe six cases of ethnic violence notified by the Manipur Government. The SIT led by a Deputy Inspector General will comprise ten officials. The CBI took over the investigation on Friday. 

A villager and the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) claimed that “Meitei militants disguised in army and police uniforms” attacked Khoken village, located at the junction of Kangkpokpi and Imphal West. Police had no leads on the attackers. 

“Armed micreants opened fire at a Kuki village, three people were killed, two others were injured. We have launched operations to identify the culprits,” Manoj Prabhakar M, Superintendent of Police, Kangpokpi told The Hindu.

Kangpokpi is a predominantly Kuki area while Imphal West is dominated by the Meiteis. Since the ethnic violence erupted in the State between the two communities on May 3, the villages lying at the junction of areas dominated by either communities have reported increasing violence. More than 100 people have been killed and more than 35,000 people have been displaced in the ongoing violence. 

The deceased were identified as Jangpao Touthang (35), Domkhohoi Haokip (67) and Khaimang Guite (57). Ms. Haokip, whose husband was an ex-serviceman had gone to the local church to pray where she was killed.

Khup Doungel, a private teacher said that around 20 men dressed in police uniforms came around 4.30 am to the Khoken village. 

“As soon as we heard gunshots we rushed to the nearby Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp. That is how most villagers are unharmed. The woman who was in the church could not hear the gunshots and she was shot dead by the armed Meitei group. The other two men who were killed were in the fields when the attack took place,” Mr. Doungel said on phone from Khoken village.

He said two days before the attack a peace meeting between both communities was held in the village and it was decided that women and children will not be targetted. 

Mr. Doungel claimed that when the armed men fled a police vehicle escorted them. “The vehicle was abandoned when security forces gave chase, it remains where it was left,” he said. 

The ITLF said that the Kuki-Zo villagers, assuming it was an army combing operation, gave way to the attackers. 

A senior government official said that there are clear instructions not to conduct combing operations during late night or early hours. “The situation is volatile here, we have to win the trust of the people. No operation by security forces is carried out before 7am. We only operate during the day. Central forces have been deployed in the fringe areas between both the communities, not the local police.”

A senior government official said that in the past 24 hours, 57 weapons, 1,588 rounds of ammunition and 23 bombs have been recovered in Imphal East, Kakching, Tengnoupal and Bishnupur districts of Manipur. A total of 953 arms, 13,351 rounds and 223 bombs of different kinds have been recovered till date. More than 4,000 weapons have been looted from police armouries since May 3.

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