12 killed as separatist gangs fight in Nagaland

June 4th, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Dimapur (Nagaland), June 4 (IANS) Twelve tribal separatists have been killed and one injured in warfare between rival gangs in northeastern India’s Nagaland state Wednesday, police said. A police spokesman said heavily armed militants belonging to two factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) attacked each other with automatic weapons early Wednesday, killing 12 and injuring one near village Keloshe, about 15 km from Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland.

“Clashes broke out between the NSCN’s Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) faction and the NSCN-Unification (NSCN-U) and continued for about four hours in which 12 militants were killed and another wounded,” Liremo Lotha, police chief of Dimapur, told IANS.

The immediate provocation for the attack was not immediately known, although police official said the clashes broke out for territorial supremacy in the area.

“We have started a massive combing operation in the area with militants of both the groups retreating,” the police official said.

Last month, 12 militants of the NSCN-U were killed in a similar gang war with the NSCN-IM near the same village. About 50 militants were killed in the past three months in fratricidal clashes between the two warring factions.

The NSCN-U was floated last year after some NSCN-IM leaders severed links with the parent group and formed the NSCN-U The police are yet to identify those killed.

“We are not in a position to say immediately which group the dead militants belong to,” Lotha said.

The Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN is operating a ceasefire with the Indian government since August 1997 and is engaged in peace negotiations. The NSCN-U does not have any ceasefire with the government.

All the NSCN groups are fighting for an independent Naga homeland comprising the Naga inhabited areas in India’s northeast.

Group clashes have intensified after the formation last year of the NSCN-U after some leaders and members of the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN broke away.

Until then, there was just another NSCN faction headed by S.S. Khaplang or the NSCN-K. Like the Isak-Muivah faction of the NSCN, the NSCN-K too is on a ceasefire with the Indian government since 2001 although the latter has not begun peace negotiations with New Delhi.

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