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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

Manipur: Six security personnel injured in ambush, CM links it to Myanmar mercenaries

A Manipur police post on X said both 'gunfire and explosives' were used in the attack on a 'joint team of security forces' — meaning the team had both state and central forces

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 03.01.24, 05:46 AM
Biren Singh

Biren Singh File Photo

Six security personnel were injured in an ambush at Moreh in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district on Tuesday, prompting a security review in the state and the chief minister suspecting the involvement of foreign mercenaries from neighbouring Myanmar.

A Manipur police post on X said both “gunfire and explosives” were used in the attack on a “joint team of security forces” — meaning the team had both state and central forces.

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“During the ensuing gunfight, 6 security personnel sustained splinter injuries and have been evacuated to Imphal for further medical treatment. Forces are on high alert to prevent any untoward incident,” the police said.

However, official sources had said earlier in the day that four police and three BSF personnel were injured in the ambush.

The security forces were attacked at a turning while they were returning from an operation in bullet-proof vehicles around 7.30am, an official told The Telegraph.

All the injured were airlifted to Imphal and their condition was stated to be stable.

Tuesday’s ambush was the second to have been inflicted by armed miscreants in Kuki-Zo majority Moreh under Tengnoupal district since Saturday when four commandos were injured.

The ambush follows a Monday evening attack at Lilong in Thoubal district in which four Pangals (Meitei Muslims) were killed and 14 injured.

Banned militant outfit Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the Lilong attack, stating they had gone to apprehend a drug dealer who had not heeded their repeated warnings to mend his ways and that they shot in self-defence after local residents got involved without knowing the real reason.

While the administration clamped curfew in five valley districts, civil society organisations from both the Meitei and Pangal communities worked on the ground to prevent any kind of flare-up. The situation in Lilong is now peaceful because of these efforts, sources said.

An official said a review meeting involving police, Assam Rifles, BSF, army and CRPF personnel was called after the ambush to strategise on preventing such attacks. “We have decided to change our combing and search operations in such a way that we remain protected while continuing with our operations,” he said.

Chief minister N. Biren Singh, after visiting the injured security personnel at the RIMS in Imphal, said the intensity of the attack “proved the weapons used by the terrorists were sophisticated weapons”. The central forces and state forces are carrying out search and combing operations and reinforcements have also been sent, he said.

“We doubt the involvement of foreign mercenaries from Myanmar... likely to be the Kuki National Army, Burma (KNA-B) involved in the recent attack in Moreh (on Saturday)... the government will not succumb to such threats and pressure and will take necessary measures to counter such terrorist activities,” he said.

Later he posted on X: “...We’re committed to tackling those bent on destabilizing Manipur, ensuring justice for the victims with decisive actions against the responsible parties.”

Moreh shares a border with Myanmar.

Singh said in a CMO media statement: “In the event that AFSPA is reimposed by the Centre in view of the repeated disturbances created by various elements, those creating these disturbances should be held responsible.”

Currently, the AFSPA, a central law aimed at ensuring order in areas declared as disturbed, is not imposed in the valley districts.

The ongoing unrest in Manipur started in May between the Kuki-Zo and the Meitei communities and has since left at least 199 dead and over 67,000 displaced.

Meitei organisations have blamed Kuki-Chin militants from Myanmar for fuelling the unrest, while Kuki-Zo organisations blame the Meitei radical groups and state forces for targeting the community.

Churachandpur–based Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, a conglomerate of recognised Kuki-Zo organisations, responded to the unfolding and tense Moreh situation by urging the central government to remove all Meitei personnel from the state forces, especially commandos, from Moreh and surrounding tribal areas.

“There can be no peace as long as they are deployed in the area. If Meitei forces are allowed to continue operating and harassing the Kuki-Zo tribals, the government will be held responsible for any future security issues,” the ITLF said.

In protest against the “atrocities of the Meitei state forces” and in support of their demand to remove Meitei forces from all four Kuki-Zo majority districts, the ITLF called a 24-hour “total shutdown” in all Kuki areas from Tuesday midnight.

The ITLF alleged: “Incursion of communal Meitei state forces into Moreh and the surrounding tribal areas during the ethnic conflict involving the two communities is clearly an attempt by the chief minister to drive out the tribals from their homes using state machinery, and will not be tolerated by the Kuki-Zo people.”

The “worrisome” security situation from Lilong to Moreh, which has seen curfew reimposed in all valley districts, saw 10 like-minded Opposition parties meet in Imphal to condole the deaths, flay the BJP-led government for its inability to maintain order while urging it to take all steps to ensure peace and order.

The chief minister on Tuesday met the 14 injured in the Lilong attack at the Raj Medicity hospital in Imphal and also visited Lilong. He said those involved would be punished according to law.

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