Imphal: Two Assam Rifles jawans died and six were injured in a powerful explosion in Manipur's Chandel district on Monday morning.
Official sources said the improvised explosive device (IED) is suspected to have been planted by militants at Maha Mani village, located on a foothills in Chandel, the district headquarters.
It exploded when personnel of 18 Assam Rifles were out on routine patrol in the area, about 64 km from here.
Two personnel, identified as riflemen Indra Singh and Sohan Lal, died on the spot. The six injured, identified as S. Sekhar, N. Shyamkumar, Tirendra Nath Das, Ram Govind Singh, Nirmal Roy and Lalnunpuia, were evacuated to the army hospital at Leimakhong, on the city's outskirts, by helicopter.
Police and additional Assam Rifles personnel rushed to the site and launched a search operation. The site is near the Chandel town mini-secretariat, the gate of 18 Assam Rifles camp and a church.
The police have not named any group behind the attack butthe Revolutionary People's Front, the political wing of People's Liberation Army, claimed responsibility. No one has been arrested.
Official sources believe the bomb was detonated using a remote-controlled device.
The district had been peaceful for some years before today's incident shattered the calm.
Chief minister N. Biren Singh had held his cabinet meeting in Chandel town on November 4 and announced a development package of Rs 253 crore for the district.
Civil society organisations in the district condemned the blast as an act of "cowardice" and "terrorism".
Residents staged a sit-in at the local bus stand to denounce the attack. The protesters demanded punishment for those behind the blast. They said the blast was an attempt to disrupt the ongoing peace talks between the Centre and the NSCN (Isak-Muivah).
The incident also comes ahead of the Sangai festival, an annual event organised by the state government to promote tourism in the state.
President Ram Nath Kovind will inaugurate the 10-day festival here on November 21.