Security alert in Manipur after killing of 14

March 19th, 2008 - 11:59 am ICT by admin  

Imphal, March 19 (IANS) Two more migrant workers injured in violent attacks in Manipur succumbed to their injuries overnight, taking the toll to 14 in the latest string of incidents that appear to be a series of ethnically motivated strikes, officials said Wednesday, adding that security forces were on maximum alert. A police spokesman said two people, both Hindi-speaking traders, died at a hospital late Tuesday after they were shot with automatic weapons.

“There were about six separate attacks since Monday night in which 14 people were killed, all of them non-Manipuri traders, daily wage earners and hawkers,” a police official said requesting not to be named.

At least 12 of the victims were identified by the authorities as originally from Bihar.

“The state government would not spare the culprits who belong to a particular underground group and their identity would be made known to the public very soon,” Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh told reporters Wednesday.

“We have put security forces on a maximum alert with special instructions given to the police to keep vigil and ensure the safety of people who have come from outside the state to work here,” he added.

Police suspects the attacks were carried out either by the outlawed People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL).

“We are investigating the matter and have some leads already although it would be premature to disclose (them) now,” L. Kailul, police chief of Imphal West district, told IANS.

The two banned groups are both fighting for an independent homeland for the majority Metei community in the state of 2.4 million people.

Militants after gunning down the victims wrote in bold letters on the back of their shirts saying “Go back to your state” - an indication that the killings were carried out as part of a broader design aimed at scaring migrants from outside the state.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, which echoed shootings this month in the neighbouring state of Assam, where a long-running separatist movement has periodically targeted non-ethnic Assamese, most of them from Bihar.

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

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