IMPHAL, Aug 5 (PTI): Three persons including a father-son duo were killed by militants in Manipur’s Bishnupur district on Friday night while another three sustained bullet wounds following heavy exchange of fire between state forces and armed men in the same district even as the 24-hour general strike called by the coordinating committee of 27 assembly constituencies paralysed normal life in Imphal valley, police said.
The three were gunned down while they were sleeping and their bodies were later slashed with swords at Kwakta in the district by unidentified men, police said on Saturday morning, adding that the assailants came from Churachandpur.
“The three used to stay in a relief camp but had returned to their residences at Kwakta on Friday after the situation improved,” police said.
Soon after the incident, an irate mob gathered at Kwakta and wanted to head towards Churachandpur but was stopped by security personnel, they said.
Eyewitnesses said several houses were burnt at Ukha Tampak in Bishnupur district by a mob in retaliation for the murders.
In another incident, three persons including one policeman were injured following heavy exchange of fire between state forces and militants near Kwakta on Saturday morning, police said.
“The policeman sustained splinter injuries on his face. All the three were taken to Raj Medicity in Imphal for treatment. They are out of danger,” they said.
Across Imphal valley, women protesters came out on the streets and burnt tyres to block the movement of vehicles.
In the wake of renewed violence, the district administration clamped curfew from 10.30 am in the twin Imphal districts.
“Instead of curfew relaxation from 5am to 6pm in the twin Imphal districts, it has now been shortened to 5am to 10.30am,” an official said, adding fierce gunfights have been reported in Kwakta and its neighbouring areas since morning.
In a statement, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) asked the state government on the steps being taken to stem the violence.
“The ITLF would like to know what government agencies are doing to address the security threat posed by frequent looting of guns and ammunition by mobs and why security forces are still unable to safeguard government-issued weapons three months into the ethnic conflict in Manipur,” it said.
According to the forum, more than 4,000 weapons and lakhs of ammunition were “looted” from different police stations and armouries by mobs in Imphal and the surrounding valley in May.
It said if the central government and security forces do not take cognisance of the risk posed by the circulation of such huge quantities of arms and act to retrieve the weapons, “we are afraid that Manipur could witness a bloodbath, the kind of which the country has not seen in decades.”
Meanwhile, the 24-hour general strike called by the co-ordinating committee of 27 assembly constituencies in Manipur on Saturday paralysed normal life in Imphal Valley, with markets and business establishments remaining shut in almost all localities.