Monday, Dec 06, 2021 07:30 [IST]
Last Update: Monday, Dec 06, 2021 01:56 [IST]
DIMAPUR,: Thirteen civilians were among 14 people killed in an armed forces' operation against extremists gone wrong in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday evening.
The Army’s 3 Corps headquartered on the outskirts of the State’s Dimapur town issued a statement on Sunday, owning responsibility for the killing of the civilians and assuring “appropriate action”. The Nagaland Government has ordered a high-level probe into the incident by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
“Based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents, a specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru, Mon district, Nagaland. The incident and its aftermath are deeply regretted,” the statement said.
“The cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law,” it said, adding that a few soldiers were severely injured and one soldier succumbed to his injuries.
According to members of the Konyak Union, representing the dominant Konyak community in the district, some labourers were returning home to Oting village in a pick-up van from a coal mine in Tiru area 15 km away.
“The armed forces ambushed their vehicle and killed six on the spot. Seven locals died later. At least 11 others are battling injuries while two are missing,” a union member said.
The labourers come home every Saturday from the mine, spend Sunday with their families and return to work on Monday. This has been a routine for a long time, he said.
A local police official said the troops had laid in wait for members of the outlawed National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang-Yung Aung) but fired at the pick-up van. The incident enraged the locals who attacked the troops and set two of their vehicles on fire.
One soldier was killed in this attack during which the troops fired at the locals in self-defence, officials said.
An Army officer said there was specific input of movement of NSCN (K-YA) cadres in a vehicle of specific colour and type following which the area was cordoned off. But the civilians came in a similar vehicle and “did not cooperate” when asked to stop.
The troops fired at the vehicle instinctively. “Six civilians were killed and two injured,” he said.
As the troops waited for the police to arrive, locals gathered and attacked them. The officer claimed a soldier was killed and three others were injured in firing from the crowd. Seven civilians were killed when the troops fired in self-defence, he added.