IMPHAL, May 25: At least five persons were killed when cadres of the Kuki Revolutionary Army, KRA clashed with the rival Kuki Liberation Army, KLA near a public cemetery at New Saikhul under Saikhul police station in Senapati district.
Reports said that four of the five slain cadres belonged to the KLA while one to the KRA.
However, KSO Sadar Hills said that four of the five slain men were civilians while condemning their ‘brutal killing’.
The clash occurred in the intervening night of May 24 and 25 and continued till the wee hours today, police said. The dead bodies were retrieved from the spot by Saikhul police and after post mortem handed over to their respective families, it added.
A team of Saikhul police retrieved the dead bodies this morning.
The slain KRA cadre was later identified as Langkholel Chongloi, 33, son of Saikholan of Luntin village, Saikhul.
The four slain men said to be KLA cadres were identified as Kamlen Dimngel, 29, son of Thangsei, Mangkholal Doungel, 48, son of Khuplan, Laljang Khongsai, 46, son of Khupkholun and Doukhohel Touthang, 70, all hailing from Saijang village.
According to a highly placed source in the KRA, the heavy gunbattle took place near the public cemetry when about 17 cadres of the KLA ambushed a transit camp of the KRA located very close to New Saikhul village.
Around 10 KRA cardes at the transit camp retaliated resulting in the killing of four KLA cadres involved in the ambush after heavy exchange of fire.
The exchange of fire lasted for about 40 minutes. In the aftermath of the incident two .303 rifles along with around 80 live ammunitions were recovered from the deceased KLA cadres, the source added.
It further said that after the fierce encounter, the KLA cadres managed to escape from the spot taking advantage of the darkness.
Mention may be made that the two rival groups have been engaging in gunfights for the last few months apparently over area domination.
The Kuki Students Organisation, Sadar Hills, in the meantime, has strongly condemned the killings stating that the slain Saijang villagers namely Mangkholal Doungel, Laljang Khongsai, Kamlen Dimngel and Doukhohel Touthang were innocent.
A statement of the body while stating that they were killed by suspected cadres of the KRA ‘brutally’ at around 11.30 pm last night near the Saikul public cemetery, said that all the victims were charged of extending cooperation and allowing their sons to be involved in the activities of a particular underground group but the cadres killed them without giving prior warning and authenticating the allegations against the victims.