Five militants, army officer killed in Manipur shootouts

September 9th, 2008 - 6:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Imphal, Sep 9 (IANS) An army officer and five separatist guerrillas were killed in two gun battles Tuesday in Manipur as a bomb blast in the troubled state injured three people, including two paramilitary troopers, officials said.A government spokesman said a joint team of police commandos and army soldiers raided an island in the middle of the Loktak lake in Bishenpur district, about 50 km south of Manipur’s capital Imphal.

“A group of militants were hiding inside the lake which is full of small floating islands made up of moss, weeds, and soil. Security forces caught them by surprise killing five rebels and later recovered a large haul of arms and ammunition,” defence spokesman Ramesh Das said.

The dead militants belonged to the outlawed People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), a militant group fighting for an independent homeland for the majority Metei community in Manipur, a state of 2.6 million people.

“The dead militants were top leaders of the PREPAK and this would be a major setback for the outfit,” a senior police official said.

The arms haul included a universal machine gun, one rocket propelled grenade launcher and five AK 56 rifles.

“The encounter continued for close to six hours although there were no casualties among the security forces,” the police official said.

In a separate incident, an army officer of the paramilitary Assam Rifles was killed in an ambush by militants of the People’s Liberation Army in Manipur’s Churachandpur district.

In yet another incident Tuesday, two paramilitary Assam Rifles troopers and a civilian were wounded in an explosion near Chingmeirong in Imphal West.

There are some 19 militant groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy.

More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Manipur during the past two decades.

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