Imphal, June 9: Curfew was reimposed and shoot-at-sight orders issued in Manipur’s trouble-torn border town of Moreh after 11 people were killed today.
The town, an important trade link with Myanmar, has turned into a powder keg of ethnic tension following the fresh killings and arson.
Suspected militants shot dead five youths, believed to be Kukis, at 9.30 am at two separate places of the border town. A house was torched in protest against the murders this morning.
The bodies of six persons, believed to be Meiteis, were recovered this afternoon from a spot near gate number 1 on the international border with Myanmar. Another person, with serious injuries, was found lying unconscious alongside the bodies. He was admitted to a local hospital.
The identities of the killers and the victims could not be confirmed.
The latest burst of violence has sparked fresh tension between communities in the area.
Three youths were shot dead in ward 9 while another two bodies were recovered from near the spot where Y. Roshan was killed by Kuki militants last Sunday.
In ward 9, two of the youths were blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs.
A mob surrounded the local police station in protest against the killings. Police lobbed teargas shells and fired in the air to disperse the irate protesters.
The police also fired in the air to disperse another mob that torched a nearby house, which belonged to members of a particular community. No one was injured in the police crackdown.
Though the police have not been able to identify the killers, they suspect militants to be behind the crime. The identities of the four slain youths, too, are yet to be established.
The bodies have been kept at Moreh police station.
Apprehending more trouble between communities and ethnic groups, the Chandel district administration reimposed continuous curfew, which had been relaxed during the daytime since Friday.
Police reinforcements, led by Manipur director-general of police Y. Joykumar Singh,have been rushed to Moreh from here.
Moreh has been under curfew since June 3, after 24-year-old Roshan, a local youth, was shot dead by militants of the Kuki National Army (KNA). The outfit accused Roshan of fanning communal tension in the area.
India enjoys a flourishing border trade with Myanmar through Moreh. The Myanmarese government sealed the border a few days ago.
A bomb exploded in a hotel at Namphalong market in Myanmar across Moreh on May 25, after which the border was sealed.
The fresh killings this morning have sparked tension, with Moreh residents fleeing their homes as they apprehend a communal flare-up between the Meitei and Kuki settlers in the town.
“My wife and children have been evacuated. We fear that communal violence could erupt after today’s incidents,” a Moreh resident told this correspondent over telephone.
Assam Rifles spokesman Col L.M. Pant said troops have intensified patrolling.
India Reserve Battalion personnel have also stepped up patrolling and search operations to flush out militants.