Villagers become victims of internal fight among militant groups

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Sadar Hills (Manipur), Aug.9 (ANI): Innocent villagers have long been victims of militants' atrocities. Now they are becoming scapegoats of internal fights among militant groups.

Recently in Manipur's Sadar hills, a prolonged gun-battle between two rival Kuki militant groups forced villagers to abandon their homes in search of safety.

Over a thousand people from Seichang and other Kuki-inhabitant villages - Bongyang, Chaning and Kumching were displaced following the gun battle between two rival Kuki outfits.

Area domination is said to be the reason behind the fight between Kuki National Front (KNF-P) and a joint team of Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) and Kuki Revolutionary Army.

Sources reveal that at least 16 cadres from both the rival groups were killed while one villager was injured in the firefight that started on the morning of July 21.

"We are scared of being hit by bullets, because bullets do not differentiate between innocent civilians and the enemy. We have left the area out of fear," said Singnem, a Kuki woman.

"Many have fled to Imphal city and to other areas. Those who have taken shelter at Itham are also facing a tough life. We don't know how long we can take shelter in other villages. We want the government to help us," said Hemang, a Kuki youth.

A relief camp sponsored by some village volunteers has been opened at the community hall in Itham village, which is located near the six Kuki villages bordering Senapati and Imphal East district.

"Meira Paibis and the club at Itham have decided to help and protect these displaced villagers," said Tembi Devi, a Meira Paibi volunteer.

The KNF-P and KNA were signatories to the Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the State government and security agencies for initiating the peace process.

The agreement was signed about a year ago and the militants were not allowed to carry arms.

In violation of the agreement they are indulging in fresh gun-battles.

The worst hit are innocent villagers, who are too scared to even go back home. (ANI)

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