Guwahati: A total of 13 civilians have lost their lives in a ‘security forces ambush’ in Nagaland’s Mon district Saturday night, while Army has said that one of its soldiers also lost his life. The incident is said to have taken place when a group of labourers were returning from a coal mine near Oting village. Mon district is the easternmost district of Nagaland and is dominated by the Konyak tribe.
An Army statement said other soldiers have also suffered severe injuries.
One person died after an Assam Rifles camp was set ablaze in Mon town Sunday afternoon in a violent retaliation by villagers.
“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 statement reads. “The incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted. 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.”
“The security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident including one soldier who succumbed to the injuries,” it added.
Sources told ThePrint that this was a joint operation by the Army and an Assam Rifles unit, based on intelligence about movement of NSCN cadres generated by local police.
Sources said the input had said that the NSCN cadres would be moving in a truck.
It is not clear why the security forces did not identify the occupants. After checking the bodies, the security forces realised those killed were unlikely to be terrorists but miners since they were carrying mining equipment.
“Security forces are still there inquiring at the location. We reached the spot and came back. There have been 13 civilian deaths in and around those villages,” a district administration official who didn’t wish to be named said.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio Sunday condemned the “unfortunate incident” that had led to the killing of the civilians.
“Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High-level SIT will investigate and justice delivered as per the law of the land,” he tweeted while appealing for peace from all sections.
Home Minister Amit Shah also tweeted that a high-level SIT will probe the incident.
“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,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Tsapikiu Sangtam, President of the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of the Konyak, Chang, Sangtam, Khiamniungan, Yimchunger and Phom tribes, said that he will be visiting the spot today.