Tension Grips Northeastern India as at Least 13 Civilians 'Accidentally' Killed by Security Forces

© AP Photo / Yirmiyan ArthurSecurity officers wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus keep guard near a polling booth during by-elections in Kohima, capital of the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Security officers wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus keep guard near a polling booth during by-elections in Kohima, capital of the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
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The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is a Naga nationalist separatist group operating in northeastern India. In 2015, it was designated a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after it ambushed an Indian Army convoy in Manipur and killed 18 army personnel.
Tension has gripped the Indian state of Nagaland after a group of at least 13 civilians travelling in a mini truck were killed in a firing incident in the Oting area of the state on Saturday night.
The security forces reportedly mistook the victims for National Socialist Council of Nagaland militants and ambushed them.
After the incident, the Indian Army's 3 Corps in Nagaland issued a statement saying that "based on credible intelligence of [the] likely movement of insurgents, a specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru, Mon district, Nagaland".
The Indian Army expressed regret over the incident and its aftermath while saying that the security forces also suffered severe injuries, including one soldier who succumbed to his injuries.
Angry locals were said to have set some vehicles, reportedly belonging to the security forces, on fire after the incident.
Reacting to the incident, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said it was "highly condemnable" and a "high-level" special investigation team would probe the case to ensure "justice is delivered". He appealed for peace from all sections of society.
Federal Home Minister Amit Shah also tweeted on Sunday morning to express his condolences to the families of the deceased.
Criticising the incident, the Eastern Nagaland Peoples' Organisation (ENPO) has decided to withdraw from the annual Hornbill Festival, which is ongoing in the Kisama area near the state capital Kohima.
ENPO is the apex body of the Konyak, Chang, Sangtam, Khiamniungan, Yimchunger, and Phom tribes. Demanding action against the security personnel, a Konyak tribe leader said: "How can we dance at the festival when our people are getting killed?"
The Hornbill Festival is celebrated in Nagaland to protect and promote its rich culture, to revive the traditions of the state, to promote inter-tribal interaction, and to promote tourism in the state by helping tourists experience the customs, food, songs, and dances of Nagaland.
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