At least 13 people were killed in a gunfight between two unknown armed groups in India’s Manipur state. The bodies were found with multiple bullet wounds in a village in the northeastern state’s Tengnoupal district. The police official said a “massive” gunfight was reported in the area.
The official mentioned that they were not able to immediately identify the dead bodies and could not say which militant group they belonged to. It was also possible that the weapons were looted after they were killed.
The killings came after deadly ethnic clashes erupted between members of the majority Meitei group and the minority Kuki-Zo community over sharing government benefits and quotas. The violence since May 3 has killed at least 180 people and displaced tens of thousands of others.
The turmoil began after a court directive instructed the government to consider extending special benefits to the Meitei community. The Meiteis are primarily Hindus and live in and around Imphal, while the Kuki-Zo are predominantly Christian and reside in the adjacent hill districts. The tribal communities make up approximately 40 percent of the state’s population, which totals 3.5 million.
The tensions in the state bordering Myanmar are seen as a security and political failure by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the ruling party in the state. Modi remained silent in public about the Manipur violence for more than two months, until viral videos surfaced in July showed two women paraded naked and assaulted by a mob, sparking national outrage.
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