GUWAHATI: Four policemen, including commandos, were killed and at least nine others injured when their convoys were attacked by suspected militants of the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) in Manipur's newly-created Tengnoupal district on Thursday.
The attacks were carried out on two road opening parties (ROPs) of the police at two different locations between 6:30am and 7:30am. The personnel were travelling to Tengnoupal district headquarters in connection with security arrangements.
“In the first incident, the personnel were travelling from Moreh (on the India-Myanmar border) in a convoy of three vehicles when they came under the attack at Lokchao. Two head constables died while nine others were injured,” Manipur’s Director General of Police (DGP), LM Khaute, told Express.
One of the injured cops later succumbed to injuries in hospital.
Khaute said a havildar was killed in the second incident when the police convoy was ambushed by the insurgents at Bongyang. It was moving from Thoubal in Imphal valley. He said there were no reports of injuries to any other personnel.
“We are carrying out operations in certain areas. The security forces are also doing the same thing,” the DGP added.
No outfit claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came amid an indefinite “economic blockade” on two national highways – lifelines of the state – enforced by a powerful Naga organisation since November 1 and a counter-blockade by some Manipuri groups.
The United Naga Council (UNC) enforced a blockade on the two highways in protest against the decision of the state’s Congress government to upgrade Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts without consulting the Nagas. The UNC argues that Sadar Hills is the “ancestral homeland” of the Nagas where “migrant” Kukis are now in a majority. Its worries about Jiribam are that it will be created by bifurcating Naga-dominated Tamenglong to benefit the Manipuris.
Asked if the attacks were the fallout of state government’s decision to create seven districts including Sadar Hills and Jiribam, Chief Secretary O Nabakisor said, “I can’t say anything. We don’t have any specific inputs. So, we can’t comment”.
Earlier this month, suspected Naga militants had ambushed a team of the Para commandos in neighbouring Chandel district that left five personnel injured. Last year, 18 Army personnel were killed and over a dozen others injured when their convoy was ambushed by the SS Khaplang faction of the NSCN in the district.