Villagers carry the body of a security officer out of a mangled vehicle at the site of a rebel attack on the outskirts of Imphal, in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur on April 15. Suspected insurgents ambushed a lawmaker’s convoy in India’s troubled northeast on Friday, killing six police and a civilian driver in a hail of gunfire, authorities said. (AP Photo)
Six security personnel, 1 civilian killed; 6 injured
A daring ambush allegedly by heavily armed militants on the entourage of Phungyar assembly constituency MLA Wungnaoshang Keishing today near New Canal area under Litan police station about 30 km away from Imphal, led to the death of 6 security escorts and a civilian driver of the MLA while 6 others including a civilian sustained critical injuries.
According to sources, the MLA was returning from Rehang Loute village with his escorts on three Maruti Gypsy vehicles after attending an awareness program on HIV/AIDS when heavily armed cadres rained down bullets using sophisticated weapons.
Significantly, the independent MLA of Phungyar assembly constituency Wungnaoshang Keishing has been aggressively pushing the agenda for the creation of full-fledged Phungyar district by bi-furcating the present Ukhrul district. Recently, he drew flaks from Naga apex body United Naga Council (UNC) for attempting to “derail” the demand for Alternative Arrangement for Nagas in Manipur. The MLA was asked to revoke the resolution for the demand of the district which he had apparently submitted to the government of the State but he steadfastly stood his ground saying that he was only obliging the wishes of the people who have been victims of uneven development in the district.
Even as bullets were being sprayed on the entourage by the ambushers, the vehicle carrying MLA Wungnaoshang Keishing drove into a gorge of the canal and the MLA jumped out into safety. He reportedly sustained minor injury on his head while escaping death narrowly. The scene at the ambush spot was bloody and gory with bullet riddled bodies strewn about. 3 personnel of Manipur Rifles and the driver of the MLA felt off into a 200 feet gorge. 2 of the security personnel including the escort commander were dead at the spot.
The loaded weapons of the ambushed team suggested that they were getting ready to retaliate but unable to. The police said that 3 personnel of 6th Manipur Rifles and 3 of 1st Manipur Rifles were dead at the spot while 2 personnel of 1st Manipur Rifles, 2 personnel of 6th Manipur Rifles and a driver of 2nd Manipur Rifles sustained critical injury. A civilian is also reportedly injured in the ambush. One security personnel of the escort team and a civilian driver of the MLA escaped narrowly from death, including the MLA himself who sustained a minor injury.
3 security personnel and a civilian have been admitted to Shija Hospital in Langol and 3 others are admitted to Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) under critical conditions.
The doctors said that the number of death will likely increase given the critical conditions of the ambush victims. Imphal East superintendent of police Clay Khongsai, additional superintendent of police and several team of police commandos rushed to the spot after the incident to conduct spot inquiry and search operation in the area. The ambush party was dressed in civil cloths with sophisticated weapons, said the police.
The deceased personnel have been identified by the police as Havildar Kh Kunjo, escort commander and Havildar Hodam Narendra (29), Rifleman Tomba (55), Rifleman Md Tagudin (30), Rifleman M Phuring Tangkhul, Rifleman Y Surchand. The deceased civilian driver has been identified as Haram Reingam (26). The injured security personnel have been identified as Rifleman Stephen Keishing, Rifleman Thokchom Sunidro (45), Rifleman Md Ali Rehman (32), Rifleman Sorathem Mangi (41), Rifleman T Irabanta Sharma (35) and a civilian Vaorei Keishing (65), a retired district social welfare officer.
Fortunately for the media team that followed the MLA on his visit to Rehang Village, they escaped the ambush as they returned sometime after the ill fated team of the MLA left the village.