Heavily armed Kuki militants from Molnoi area rained down gunfire at the Meitei villages at Pallel in Kakching district around 6 am on Friday, resulting in a fierce gunbattle with state security forces, during which a village volunteer and a civilian were reportedly killed. Sources said, at least 4 Kuki militants were suspected to have been slain.
An UKLF leader is suspected to be among those who suffered injuries. As many as three commando personnel of Kakching District Police, one IRB personnel and an Army officer sustained injuries.
Immediately upon receiving information, village volunteers rushed to the site and exchanged heavy gunfire with Kuki militants. Many others also rushed to provide assistance but they were blocked allegedly by a team of 26 AR near Pallel Laimanai Chingjin Forest beat office, resulting in a major confrontation.
In an attempt to reach Pallel, the mob attempted to break through the barricade put up by the Assam Rifles.
The AR personnel resorted to firing live bullets, tear gas, and mock bombs. One of the bullets allegedly fired by AR killed one civilian while more than 80 women protesters sustained injuries.
Kakching district SP also rushed to the site. The civilian who was killed in the firing has been identified as one Yengkhom Jiten, 43, son of Ato from Kakching Chumnang Pareng. He died at the spot where the confrontation took place around 10.30 am.
The village volunteer who was killed in the attack by Kuki militants is yet to be identified. He was reportedly brought dead to a hospital.
The three injured commando personnel are Md Riyaj khan, 41, son of Ibocha from Yairipok Tulihal in Imphal East; H Gunamani, 41, son of Thoithoiba from Yumnam Huidrom Makha leikai in Imphal West; Athokpam Thoithoi, 35, son of Ashokumar from Serou makha leikai in Kakching district.
The injured IRB personnel is identified as one Somorjit Salam, 37, from Kakching Wairi Salam. They have been admitted at several hospital including Jiban Hospital, Kakching and RIMS, Imphal, Raj Medicity, etc.
It is learnt that the conditions of 11 persons are critical. It has been confirmed that a SoO cadre of the UKLF, identified as one Paogelian was killed in the gunbattle. It is believed that three more Kuki militants were killed. At least six meira paibis are admitted at the JNIMS emergency ward.
The injured are named as Mutum Tampha, 57, wife of M Khomei of Pallel Mayai Leikai; Langpoklakpam Bino, 57, wife of L Nitiyachand of Pallel Thong Wangma; Hidam Inaotombi, 42, wife of late H Basanta of Samurou Makha Leikai; Longjam Sumati, 55, wife of L Khomei of Wangoi Thounaojam Leikai; Longjam Thamila, 43, wife of N Ajit of Wangoi Thounaojam Leikai and Longjam Yumjang, 47, wife of late L Gandhi of Wangoi Thounaojam Leikai.
Among the injured, Inaotombi received bullet injury and has been admitted at JNIMS surgery ward for further treatment.
Besides, two village defense volunteers named as Mayanglangbam Shyamsundar, 43 of Kakching Makha Leikai and Khangembam Purel, 32 of Khongjam Samaran are undergoing treatment at Shija Hospital. It is reported that both the injured received bullet injury on their right thighs.
The gunbattle which began in the morning halted briefly for a while at noon. The gunbattle continued till late in the evening.
One Shanta, a meira paibi from pallel said that an agreement to maintain peace in Pallel had been made with AR earlier.
However, the attack using bombs and indiscriminate firing towards Meitei villages was launched in the morning by Kuki militants right in front of AR personnel, she alleged.
On the other hand, at least 70 houses belonging to Kukis at Kuraopokpi near Pallel were allegedly torched by miscreants. Shops owned by Kukis at New Market in Pallel bazar were also torched.
The residents, including women and children of the Meitei village in Pallel and surrounding areas fled from their homes while the youths are guarding the village.
It may be mentioned that Manipur Police posted a clarification on X that social media posts “regarding exchange of fire between Kuki militants and Meetei village volunteers” is not correct and that the incident was related to firing between security forces and armed miscreants at Pallel.
Meanwhile, a police control room press-release said, a firefight erupted this morning between security forces and some armed miscreants who attempted to resort to arson and violence.
As thousands of people attempted to move towards Pallel, security forces jointly tried to stop the mob. Being blocked by security forces, some armed miscreants from within the mob fired at security forces resulting in gunshot wounds to an army officer who was evacuated by helicopter to military hospital for treatment, the press release added.
The release further said, three other police personnel were injured during the crowd dispersal. Security forces used minimum force to disperse the mob that led to injuries to few persons who were part of the mob out of which two reportedly died, it added.