India: 4 Police Killed in Manipur Twin Attacks

Jhumur Deb
Guwahati, India
2016-12-15
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161215-IN-border-620.jpg Members of the Manipur Tribal Forum shout slogans as they try to break through a police cordon in New Delhi during a “coffin march” to protest controversial tribal rights laws, Dec.9, 2015.
AFP

A massive search operation to capture members of a separatist outfit is under way in northeast India’s Manipur state after four police officers were killed Thursday in two separate attacks on convoys, police said.

The National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Issac Muivah (NSCN-IM), the armed faction of the United Naga Council (UNC), is believed to be behind the twin attacks, police said.

UNC – an umbrella group representing more than 35 Naga tribes scattered across the northeastern states of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh – has blocked arterial highways leading to Manipur since Oct. 31 to protest the state government’s decision to create new districts in the Naga-dominated areas of Manipur.

The state government’s move is a conspiracy to snatch away ancestral land owned by members of the Naga tribe, according to the UNC.

The first attack occurred in Lokchao, about 21 km (13 miles) from the Myanmar border, when suspected militants ambushed a police party heading to provide security for state Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, who was visiting the area to inaugurate a new district – Tengnoupal. Three police died in the attack.

Another police team was attacked barely two hours later as it traveled to the site of the ambush, police said, adding that another officer was killed in the second attack.

Others suffered serious injuries

“Five police personnel have been grievously injured in the two attacks. Their condition is very critical. The death toll could go up,” Superintendent of Police Herojit Singh told BenarNews.

“We have launched a massive search operation to nab the militants,” he said, even as reports of fresh firing near the attack sites emerged late Thursday.

The outlawed NCSN-IM, a Christian extremist group, has been waging an armed rebellion against the Indian government since 1980, demanding the establishment of a sovereign state separate from India.

Thursday’s attacks are linked to the government’s decision to create new districts in Manipur’s Naga tribe dominated areas, police sources said.

The attacks came just two days after New Delhi sent 1,500 extra troops to Manipur to attempt to lift the economic blockade imposed by the UNC.

The nearly 2.1 million indigenous Nagas, including 625,000 who live in Manipur, have opposed any arbitrary division of their land for decades.

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