9 killed in fresh ethnic clashes in India’s northeast

At least nine people were shot dead in the remote northeast Indian state of Manipur, officials said Wednesday — the latest incident in weeks of violence sparked by long-standing ethnic tensions.

Manipur saw days of deadly clashes in May, prompted by a dispute over access to government jobs and other perks.

More than 100 have died in the resulting unrest, during which mobs raided police stations and stole weapons, while tens of thousands of others fled their homes to seek safety.

Unidentified gunmen stormed Kamenlok village on the outskirts of state capital Imphal late Tuesday and shot indiscriminately at houses using “sophisticated weapons”, Manipur government information officer Heisnam Balakrishna told AFP.

“Nine persons including a woman were killed during the firing,” he added.

Ten others were injured in the attack and were taken to a hospital in Imphal for treatment.

Another nine people were injured in a separate attack on Monday in the same village, according to police.

Tensions in the state came to a head last month between the majority of Meitei, who are mostly Hindus and live in and around Imphal, and the mainly Christian Kuki tribe in the surrounding hills.

The Kuki community had protested Meitei demands for reserved public job quotas and college admissions as a form of affirmative action.

This also stoked long-held fears among the Kuki that the Meitei might also be allowed to acquire land in areas currently reserved for them and other tribal groups.

Manipur is part of India’s remote northeast, a region linked to the rest of the country by a narrow land corridor.

The area is home to dozens of tribal groups and small ethnic guerrilla armies whose demands range from greater autonomy to secession from India.

A curfew remains in force and internet shut in most of Manipur, where tens of thousands of soldiers were sent to control the violence last month.

The situation in the state remains volatile despite a visit this month by India’s home minister Amit Shah, who demanded the return of assault rifles seized from police stations when the violence began.

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