Kohima ( Nagaland), Dec 5 : Angry villagers who set fire to army vehicles are among more than a dozen civilians killed by soldiers in India’s remote north-east region along the border with Myanmar.
An army officer said soldiers fired at a truck, killing six labourers returning home from work, after receiving intelligence about a movement of insurgents in the area.
As villagers reacted by burning two army vehicles, the soldiers fired at them, killing seven more people, the officer said, adding that one soldier was also killed in the clash.
Nagaland police officer Sandeep M Tamgadge told AFP that the situation in the district was “very tense right now”, with nine other civilians wounded in the second incident now being treated in local hospitals.
Nagaland CM, Neiphiu Rio, ordered a probe into the killings, which occurred on Saturday: “The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting is highly condemnable.”
Insurgents often cross into Myanmar after attacking Indian government forces in the remote area.
Nyamtow Konyak, a local community leader, said those killed were coalminers returning home from work.
Union Home minister Amit Shah expressed anguish over the “unfortunate incident” and said the state government would investigate the killings.
Anguished over an unfortunate incident in Nagaland’s Oting, Mon. I express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. A high-level SIT constituted by the State govt will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) December 5, 2021
The army officer said the soldiers had laid an ambush for a week following intelligence that insurgents were planning to attack soldiers in the area, 250 miles (400km) east of Guwahati, the capital of Assam state.
“The cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law,” a statement from the army said.
There are dozens of ethnic insurgent groups in India’s remote north-east whose demands range from independent homelands to maximum autonomy within India.
(With inputs from Reuters and Associated Press)