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13 civilians killed in Nagaland as security operation goes awry

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In a shocking incident, 13 people were killed in Nagaland on Saturday night after a security operation went wrong.

Six died as they were fired upon by security forces in a case of mistaken identity and seven others were killed in the ensuing violence as angry locals attacked security forces.

The security forces allegedly fired at the protestors. The toll is feared to rise further as some of the injured are serious and admitted to various hospitals including those in Assam, which borders Nagaland.

One security personnel has also been killed and three security men are injured.

A group of civilians travelling in a mini truck were allegedly killed by security forces on  Saturday night near Mon, Nagaland. The incident took place between Oting and Tiru villages when some daily-wage labourers were returning home in a pick-up van from a coal mine. The security forces had information about the movement of militants of Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN (K).

It was believed to be a case of mistaken identity as the forces were sitting in an ambush when the truck arrived on the scene. Either the truck was caught in the crossfire between forces and insurgents or the truck was mistaken to be the vehicle carrying the insurgents, both angles are being probed.

Later, locals protested the killing of innocents and clashed with the security forces.

An angry mob surrounded security forces’ vehicles at the spot and in the ensuing melee a soldier died and at least three vehicles were torched.

The Army and the Assam Rifles have said one jawan has been killed in the incident and others are injured.

The Army and Assam Rifles said there was 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 (sic) 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,” a statement said.

Separately, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has on Sunday morning announced a high-level Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the incident.

“High-level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land”, Rio said and termed the incident “unfortunate and condemnable”.

The killings lead to protests in Nagaland. The chief minister appealed for peace from all sections.

Union Home Minister also tweeted about the incident.

“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,” Shah’s tweet said.

Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton promised that justice will be delivered.

“Oting’s (Mon) disturbing and tragic

incident in which civilians were killed will be thoroughly investigated and justice will be served. Condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. In the wake of the tragedy, I urge peace from everyone!” he tweeted.

In protest against the incident, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisaiton (ENPO) urged the six tribes of the region to withdraw participation from the ongoing Hornbill Festival, which is the state’s biggest tourism extravaganza.

“While expressing deep sorrow and sadness over the indiscriminate firing by Indian security force where more than 10 daily wage laborers from Oting village were blatantly killed, the ENPO vehemently condemn the barbaric act of the security force,” a release issued the organisation said.

The ENPO asked the six tribes to hoist black flags in their respective Morungs at Hornbill Festival venue Naga Heritage Village in Kisama near the state capital against the incident.

“It has to be understood by all concerned that this order/move is not against the State Govt., but to show resentment against the security forces who have committed this heinous crime, and to show solidarity of the 6 tribes,” it said.

Abu Mehta, the adviser to the chief minister, said that two minutes’ silence will be observed and prayers will be held at Kisama for those killed in the incident.

— With PTI inputs

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