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Manipur: 13 killed in militants’ gunfight, days after government’s peace pact with insurgents,

The areas around the place where the incident occurred are dominated by tribal people.

Cadets of United National Liberation Front during the signing of a peace agreement between the government of Manipur and UNLF, in state capital Imphal, on Saturday, December 2, 2023. (PTI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

AT LEAST 13 people, suspected to be the cadres of the outlawed People’s Liberation Army (PLA) group, were killed after a gunfight in a remote border village in Tengnoupal district of the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur on Monday (4), officials said in Imphal, the state’s capital.

It was only last week that the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), an extremist organisation which was banned by the Indian home ministry, signed a peace agreement with the federal government and the Manipur government in New Delhi. Indian home minister Amit Shah called the pact a “historic milestone”.

As soon as the information was shared with police, teams were dispatched to Leithu village, 15 kilometres from the state’s international border with Myanmar, where they found bodies of at least 13 people, the officials said.

Quoting some witnesses, the officials said that a gunfight had broken out on Monday noon after which the bodies had been found. Initial reports suggest that these could be cadres of the Valley-based insurgent group PLA, whose ban under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was extended recently.

However, the officials said that no arms or ammunition was found near the bodies.

“A group of militants on their way to Myanmar were ambushed by another group of insurgents dominant in the area,” an official in the hill district said.

The areas around the place where the incident occurred are dominated by tribal people. They said probably a part of the group could have escaped to Myanmar where they got their arms training before being sent back to Manipur.

The area has remained peaceful and was not touched by the ethnic conflict that rocked Manipur state on May 4. More than 180 people have been killed in the unrest. Tengnoupal district shares a porous border with Myanmar. The village has no proper road connection and is often used by insurgent groups to cross over to Myanmar.

On Monday (4), the home ministry said in a release that around 25 leaders/cadres of National Revolutionary Front Manipur, a Meitei underground group, joined the UNLF with 25 weapons, days after the peace pact was signed.

Manipur has been witnessing instability since May 4 when violence erupted over a court’s direction to the state government on giving reservation to the Meitei community.

(With PTI inputs)

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