GUWAHATI, India (Net) — Rival ethnic groups fired at each other in fresh violence in India’s remote northeast that left at least nine people dead and some injured, officials said Wednesday.
Security forces rushed to Khamenlok village in Manipur state’s Kangpokpi district after clashes broke out Tuesday night between the Kuki and Meitei communities, said L. Sushindro, a state government minis-ter.
Police found nine bodies early Wednesday, a police officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
Three people have been reported missing, the officer said.
At least 100 people have been killed in severe ethnic clashes in Manipur state since May 3, and thousands of homes have been burned and shops and businesses vandalized.
Authorities have moved nearly 40,000 people from troubled areas to safer places.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah visited the state early this month and met community leaders to restore peace.
The violence started last month after protests by more than 50,000 Kukis and members of other predom-inantly Christian tribal communities in Churachandpur and adjoining districts in Manipur state.
They oppose the majority Meitei Hindu community’s demand for a special status that would give them benefits including the right to farm on forest land, cheap bank loans, and health and educational facili-ties, as well as a specified quota of government jobs.
Minority hill community leaders say the Meitei community is comparatively well-off and that granting them more privileges would be unfair.
The Meiteis say employment quotas and other benefits for tribespeople would be protected.
Two-thirds of the state’s 2.5 million people live in a valley that comprises roughly 10% of the state’s to-tal area. The Meiteis are Hindus while rival groups, including the Kuki and other tribes, are mostly Christian and mainly live in the surrounding hill districts. Ethnic Muslims constitute about 8% of the state population.