Several villagers and a soldier were killed at a village in Nagaland as a counter-insurgency operation went awry today, police sources said. Appealing for calm, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said a Special Investigation Team will investigate.
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The security forces were ready for a counter-insurgency operation in Mon district that borders Myanmar, sources said.
The forces had laid an ambush following a tip-off about possible movement of insurgents. But they mistook villagers for insurgents, police sources said.
Soon after, angry locals surrounded the security forces. Police sources said at least seven villagers were injured as the forces opened fire at the mob in “self defense”.
Three vehicles of the security forces were also set on fire.
In a statement, the army said: “Based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents, a specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru, Mon District, Nagaland. The incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted”.
“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,” the statement added.
The statement also said security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident, and a soldier died.
Union home minister Amit Shah tweeted: “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.
“The unfortunate incident leading to killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections,” tweeted Chief Minister Rio.
The Mon area is the stronghold of Naga group NSCN(K) and even ULFA and the incident comes ahead of the state’s signature “Hornbill festival”, which will be attended by several diplomats who are already in the area.