Armed groups from Myanmar join Kuki militants in gun battle with security forces in Manipur

Armed groups from Myanmar join Kuki militants in gun battle with security forces in Manipur

The border town of Moreh in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district witnessed fresh tensions early on 26 July when heavily armed militants protected by a mob, started setting buildings on fire, making way for another clash between Kukis and Meiteis. The throng was dispersed by the state police force stationed there, however, after the people were cleared, Kuki militants arrived and opened fire.

Gunfire started between armed Kuki militants, reportedly comprising of the Kuki National Army (KNA) and People’s Defence Force (PDF) of Mynamar and security personnel, including paramilitary units, Assam Rifles, and Border Security Force at 9:30 am.

Furthermore, there has been extensive looting and arson and many private dwellings, including that of a journalist, have been set on fire. Reportedly at least 30 houses were burnt down. According to senior police authorities, the structures and locations targeted today were those that have previously been struck in other attacks. It included the houses of the Meitei community people who had fled the area during previous violence.

The forest office building, which was partially burned down, was the only new facility to have been assaulted today. The crowd was driven out of Moreh after it went on the rampage, destroying and torching stores and houses. Fortunately, the security forces have not yet suffered any casualties.

Mynamar militants involved in the attack

Security authorities in Manipur have launched a probe to determine whether the heavily armed offenders who attacked security officers today in Moreh with sniper rifles and cutting-edge weapons were foreign terrorists. However, based on sources, some of them could be from the neighbouring country, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The former informed that four or five individuals have been held for interrogation.

Notably, the situation is extremely tumultuous in the town, which is located near the Indo-Myanmar border after the miscreants went into a frenzy and the security forces brought the situation under control.

After the mob was removed, the security forces launched a search operation to neutralise the armed men who were firing at them with snipers and other weapons from secure locations. Security officials revealed that a sniper strike occurred on a temporary BSF camp at Moreh College.

According to Tengnoupal Superintendent of Police Luikham Lanmeo, the shootout came to an end at around 3:30 pm. He conveyed that there were no casualties today and the security personnel saved lives. However, a number of government infrastructures have been burned down, including the office of the Moreh Wildlife Sanctuary and the forest and electricity guest houses.

Illegal migrants entered from Myanmar

In a startling development, more than 700 illegal immigrants have reportedly entered from Myanmar on the Indian side and orders have been given to deport them. “Now, there are illegal migrants from Myanmar. 718 of them that the Assam Rifles are intimated the Chandel Police and the Manipur Police. They have said that 718 fresh illegal migrants from Myanmar have come. The Manipur government has asked the Assam Rifles to deport them. This is a separate development,” unveiled Wasbir Hussain, a senior journalist.

He further continued, “On the other side of Moreh is the Burmese town of Tamu that is connected by an India-Myanmar friendship bridge and where Indians and Myanmarese can come and go within a distance of about 10 to 20 kilometres. There are no real documents necessary. Just an entry at the gate. You are allowed to go inside Tamu and come back. This is the situation in the border town.”

“There are a lot of Tamils in Moreh. There are a lot of Kukis. There are a lot of Meiteis of course. The Meities were attacked during the first wave of violence and they fled the town. They are in the relief camps in the Imphal Valley,” he mentioned.

Background of the violence

The ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki communities in the northeastern state of Manipur has already resulted in more than 100 fatalities and thousands of displaced residents.

The first clashes occurred on 3 May following a “Tribal Solidarity March” organised by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) in the hill areas to oppose the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Tensions rose in April as a result of a Manipur High Court decision ordering the state administration to make a decision regarding the Scheduled Tribe status issue.

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