Tribal songwriter among at least four killed in Manipur gunfight

Later on Wednesday evening when the condition of Lhungdim deteriorated, he was being evacuated to Guwahati by road but he succumbed to his injuries on the way on Thursday morning.

Published: 31st August 2023 08:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2023 08:41 PM   |  A+A-

A road in Manipur

The road seen here is less than 2 km from where the gunfight took place (Photo | Special arrangement)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: A Kuki-Zo songwriter was among at least four persons killed in a fresh gunfight in Manipur.

LS Mangboi Lhungdim (42), the lyricist, and two other Kuki-Zo tribals were injured in the gunbattle on Wednesday and taken to Churachandpur.

Later in the evening when the condition of Lhungdim deteriorated, he was being evacuated to Guwahati by road but he succumbed to his injuries on the way on Thursday morning. Another injured person succumbed to his injuries soon after.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) said the duo suffered injuries in bomb attacks. Lhungdim was widely known among Kuki-Zo tribals in Manipur and adjoining Mizoram for the numerous songs that he composed.

Two more tribals died during the gunfight on Thursday while two other tribals were injured.

Reports suggested that one person died while four others were injured on the other side on Thursday. Officials did not confirm the reports.

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“I have no details. I am at the war zone,” Bishnupur Superintendent of Police K Meghachandra told this newspaper.

The gunfight erupted on Tuesday morning when a Meitei farmer was injured after a bullet, allegedly fired by the Kukis, hit him.

An official of a security agency said the situation was highly tense.

“The two sides are using sophisticated weapons, including mortars,” the official said.

It was learnt some journalists from Imphal, who went to cover the violence, were stranded somewhere as shots were being fired intermittently. The camera lens of one was hit by a bullet, a local newspaper reported.

A local from Moirang in Bishnupur told this newspaper that he heard the sound of several bomb explosions while he was returning home from state capital Imphal on Thursday.

The ITLF condemned the attacks. It said the attacks were carried out in six locations – Chingphei, Lonphai, Langchingmanbi, Khousabung, Khoirengtak and Kangathei on Thursday.

“Meitei militants have lately been pounding tribal areas with mortar shells stolen from police stations and armouries, and this is leading to high tribal casualties,” the ITLF said.

It urged the government and security forces to prioritise the retrieval of looted weapons from the Meitei community.

“These unending attacks are clearly a ploy to derail political talks between tribal SoO groups and the central government. The latest round of talks was held today and will continue tomorrow,” the ITLF said.

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