At least 11 civilians were killed today in an apparent case of mistaken identity during an anti-insurgency operation by security forces at a village in north-eastern Indian state Nagaland’s Mon district bordering Myanmar, PTI reported.
The exact number of fatalities, however, is yet to be ascertained as 11 people died on the spot, and several others succumbed to their injuries in hospitals in neighboring Assam, PTI said quoting a Nagaland police officer.
The incident took place between Oting and Tiru villages when some daily-wage laborers were returning home in a pick-up van from a coal mine on Saturday evening, the police officer said.
The vehicle was allegedly fired at by army personnel who were conducting an operation in the area after receiving a tip-off on the movement of militants of the Yung Aung faction of banned outfit National Socialist Council of Nagaland, he said.
An investigation is underway to ascertain whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity, the officer said, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Mon district shares a porous international border with Myanmar where the Yung Aung faction of NSCN (K) is based.
The situation is under control and police are conducting spot verification, the officer said.
The Indian Army described the incident and its aftermath in Nagaland as “deeply regrettable” and ordered a Court of Inquiry into it.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio condemned the incident and promised a high-level probe into the incident appealing to all sections of the society to maintain calm.
“The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High-level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections,” he tweeted.
Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton promised that justice will be delivered.
Though the army is yet to issue a statement, Assam Rifles has denied its involvement in the incident.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah took to Twitter to say, “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.”