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Curfew Imposed In Manipur After Fresh Violence Kills 4.CM Urge For Peace

Authorities in Manipur’s Thoubal district reported that four men had died and five others had suffered serious bullet wounds on Monday. This forced the state government to impose a stricter curfew in the unrest-plagued state, where over 200 people had died in ethnic violence last year.

Senior police officers acknowledged the killings in the Lilong neighbourhood of Thoubal, but they stated that they had not yet arrived at the scene when this report was sent. Lilong locals verified the firing as well and posted pictures of the deceased victims on the ground.

“One of the injured is reportedly critical. We received information that some of the attackers have been caught by locals but it is yet to be verified. Police are yet to reach the village because protesters have gathered there,” said one official, requesting anonymity.

Lilong is about 12 kilometres away from Imphal, the state capital.

The state administration of Manipur increased the severity of the night curfew in response to the deaths. Top government officials, according to officials, will assess and decide on curfew measures during the day on Tuesday.

A second government official said that around 6pm, a group of militants went to Lilong Chingao area for a suspected extortion bid. “The information we have is that people gathered to protest the extortion bid. During this, the militants fired, which led to at least eight people sustaining bullet injuries. Four of them have died. But police are yet to reach the spot because of protests and crowds there,” said the second official, who requested anonymity.

Officials said villagers burnt the vehicles of the militants. “In four different Maruti gypsies, around 20-25 militants had come to Hasan, a local resident’s house. They were wearing military clothes. They scaled the wall of Hasan’s house and started demanding money. When the families raised an alarm, locals gathered. The militants fired a shot that hit Hasan’s brother. The locals were angry and more people gathered. That is when the militants fired at the crowd,” said Mohammed Habibullah, a resident.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh urged everyone, especially the people of Lilong, to keep the peace in a video message that denounced the violence.

“Police are working to arrest those behind the attack. They will be arrested soon and punished as per the law,” he said.

Meitei Pangals, Muslims from the majority population who live in the area, are not currently involved in the ethnic conflicts between the Kuki and Meitei tribes, which began on May 3. Meitei Pangals have not yet been assaulted by any group, in contrast to Kukis who stay in the hills and are unable to travel through valley districts and Meiteis who are unwilling to cross the Imphal valley. Additionally, Meitei Pangals frequently assist those travelling through the unstable state.

“We have been at the receiving end of the clashes. Militants come to our places and extort money,” said Arif, a Pangal driver in Imphal.

Only two days have passed when militants attacked Manipur police commandos inside their barracks, resulting in the firing of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Sunday night’s gunfight between security personnel and militants took place close to the border town of Moreh, marking a new phase in the ethnic bloodshed.

A gunfight between Meitei and Kuki village volunteers last Saturday ended a nearly one-month-long truce in ethnic conflict, with one person killed. Before Saturday, a firefight in Tengnoupal area on December 4 claimed the lives of thirteen persons.

Since early May, when conflicts broke out between the Meiteis, the state’s largest group, and the indigenous Kukis, Manipur has been gripped by ethnic violence.

Although the majority of the violence occurred in the days following May 3, intercommunal attacks have persisted on occasion ever since.

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