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Former insurgents' camp attacked in Manipur

By The Assam Tribune

Imphal, March 3 (IANS): A camp of former insurgents in Manipur was attacked by a group of militants who escaped before police could reach the site, authorities said on Thursday.

The "peace camp" of the former guerrillas of the United Revolutionary Front (URF) at Lamlai in Imphal district came under attack at 11 pm on Wednesday.

Police said a large number of unidentified men sneaked near the camp's fence and began firing from automatic weapons and lobbing Chinese-made hand grenades. Although the attack continued for several minutes, no one in the camp was injured.

But police reached the site after the attackers had fled, only to find a grenade, a rifle magazine and several empty cartridges.

Ngangom Kiran of the URF said: "Earlier we had been camping in the Manipur Spinning Mills in Imphal. But following some differences, we had shifted to this temporary camp."

He admitted there were some threats from another group. "It is mind boggling why we should be attacked like this. We are unarmed and we have not indulged in anything objectionable, including extortion," Kiran told IANS.

"We are eking out a living with the stipend given by the government." He expressed unhappiness that the government had not taken up any meaningful steps for their protection.

Police cannot say whether the attackers of Wednesday night were related to the URF or not.

The attack is seen as a serious blow to the government's efforts to restore peace in Manipur, where members of 18 outfits have come overground after suspension of operations. But some of them allege that security forces continue to arrest them for incidents with which they have no links.

All underground organisations in Manipur are agreed on one thing -- to exterminate all those who have come overground. Some former insurgents who strayed out of their camps were done to death by armed insurgents. But this is the first time a "peace camp" has been attacked.

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