At least 14 civilians killed by Indian forces in remote northeast - official

Army regrets killing of civilians, assures appropriate action



Image used for illustrative purpose. Indian army soldiers inspect a damaged vehicle at the site of an attack at Churachandpur on November 14, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
Image used for illustrative purpose. Indian army soldiers inspect a damaged vehicle at the site of an attack at Churachandpur on November 14, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

By Reuters

Published: Sun 5 Dec 2021, 11:07 AM

At least 14 tribal civilians and one security personnel were mistakenly killed when Indian forces opened indiscriminate fire in the remote northeastern state of Nagaland, government and military officials said on Sunday.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said he was “anguished” at the news of civilians being killed in the incident late on Saturday night.

Nagaland’s chief minister Neiphiu Rio told Reuters a probe will be conducted and the guilty punished in the incident, which he ascribed to intelligence failure.

At least a dozen civilians and some members of the security forces were injured in the attack, said a federal defence ministry official based in New Delhi.

Locals in Nagaland have frequently accused forces of wrongly targeting innocent locals in their counterinsurgency operations against rebel groups.

The incident took place in and around Oting village in Mon district, bordering Myanmar, during a counterinsurgency operation conducted by members of the Assam Rifles, a part of Indian security forces deployment in the state, said a senior police official based in Nagaland.

Firing began when a truck carrying 30 or more coal-mine labourers were passing the Assam Rifles camp area.

“The troopers had intelligence inputs about some militant movement in the area and on seeing the truck they mistook the miners to be rebels and opened fire killing six labourers,” the senior police official told Reuters, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak with journalists.

“After the news of firing spread in the village, hundreds of tribal people surrounded the camp. They burnt Assam Rifles vehicles and clashed with the troopers using crude weapons,” he said.

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Members of the Assam Rifles retaliated, and in the second attack eight more civilians and a security member were among those killed, the official said.

In recent years India has tried to persuade Myanmar to evict rebels from bases in the thick jungles of the region, which borders Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

Army regrets killing

Expressing regret, the Army on Sunday said that incident of Nagaland killings is being investigated at the highest level and assured that appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law.

Terming the incident as “unfortunate” the Army said, “the incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted.”

The Army informed that a specific operation was planned in the area of Tiru in Mon district of Nagaland on Saturday. The operation was based on credible intelligence of the likely movement of insurgents in the area.

“The security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident including one soldier who succumbed to the injuries,” the Army said in an official statement.

Earlier, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio ordered a high-level probe into the reported killings of civilians by security forces in Oting village in the Mon district of the state.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has expressed anguish over the incident and conveyed condolences to the bereavedfamilies.


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