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40 suspected Kuki militants killed by security forces in Manipur: CM Biren Singh

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According to state government officials, operations against the armed militants are still ongoing, and the casualty figures could increase.




Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh





At least 40 armed terrorists suspected to be from Kuki militant groups have been killed in violent-hit Manipur in a massive crackdown by state police and security forces in the past 3-4 days, chief minister N Biren Singh said in Imphal on Sunday.
According to state government officials, operations against the armed militants are still ongoing, and the casualty figures could increase.

Fresh violence broke out with reports of firing and arson. Four civilians and one para-military personnel have been killed in fresh violence at several places since Saturday night, officials stated.

“State police have been conducting operations in vulnerable areas. In retaliatory and defensive operations against these terrorist groups who are using sophisticated arms against the civilian population, around 40 terrorists have been killed in different areas and a few arrested by the security forces,” Singh said.

Also Read: Amid backlash, Manipur CM makes fresh appeal for peace
The CM stated that the fresh violence is not between two communities but between armed terrorists trying to disintegrate Manipur.

He said the crackdown was against Kuki militant groups who had signed a suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with the Centre and the state government in August 2008.

The agreement was signed with 25 Kuki militant groups– (17 of them are under the umbrella group Kuki National Organisation and eight under the United Peoples’ Front). As per the agreement, the cadres of these groups were to be confined to designated camps and their arms were kept locked.

There have been allegations by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government that militants belonging to the SoO groups could be involved in spreading violence in Manipur. On the other hand, Kuki groups have blamed two radical groups, Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun of the Meitei community for the attacks.

Ethnic clashes, which began on May 3 between Kuki and Meitei communities were triggered after the former opposed granting of scheduled tribe (ST) status to the former Manipur’s dominant community comprising 53% of the population. The violent clashes have so far left 74 dead, nearly 300 injured and displaced more than 30,000. Curfew has been clamped in most parts of the northeastern state, with partial relaxations, and all internet services shut down for the past 25 days.

Kuki groups have denounced CM Singh’s claims that militants from their community were involved in fresh clashes and alleged that the crackdown was another attempt to target their community. HT is yet to get reactions from Kuki outfits on the CM’s latest statements.

The crackdown and operations against armed militants have taken place ahead of union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state on May 29. During his three-day trip, Shah is slated to hold parleys with different stakeholders and find a way to end the present spate of ethnic violence in the northeastern state.

On Sunday, CM Singh appealed to the civilians of all communities against coming out on the roads so that there’s no disruption in the movement of commandos and security forces. Singh also said that he has given a free hand to the state police to act against anyone indulging in violence.

“The spurt in violent attacks on civilian houses in peripheral areas of Imphal Valley in the past one or two days which seemed well-planned is strongly condemnable. Those trying to break the state and disrupt peaceful coexistence are enemies of all the 34 communities residing together in Manipur,” said Singh.

“This is a challenge to the state and its integrity. The government will not allow disintegration of Manipur, protect the state’s integrity and uproot these armed terrorists from the State,” added Singh.

Also Read: Army chief in Manipur, forces up combing ops
A senior Manipur government official told HT over the phone that fresh clashes have taken place at several places surrounding Imphal Valley between armed militants and security forces on Sunday. The militants are stated to be heavily armed with automatic assault rifles and machine guns.

“The clashes took place after the army and para-military forces started operations to take back arms and restore normalcy. Some militants targeted Sekmai, which is on the outskirts of Imphal, forcing residents to flee,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

Officials informed that fresh clashes broke out in the early hours of the morning at several places in different districts surrounding the Imphal Valley in which the house of BJP MLA Khwairakpam Raghumani Singh at Uripok in Imphal West was vandalised and his two vehicles set ablaze.

The clashes are reported to have taken place in Kakching, Churachandpur, Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur and Kangpokpi, they said.

Due to the fresh violence, curfew hours in both Imphal West and Imphal East districts, which were earlier relaxed from 5am to 4pm, were shortened to 11.30am. In Bishnupur, relaxation in curfew from 5am to 2pm was shortened to 12pm on Sunday.

Around 135 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles, comprising over 10,000 personnel, have been deployed in the violence-hit northeastern state to maintain law and order situation.

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