After security forces gunned down 13 civilians in District Mon of Nagaland in what appears a case of mistaken identities, the Indian Army has confirmed the incident and termed it as an “unfortunate” one.
At a place between Oting and Tiru villages, when some daily-wage labourers were returning home in a pick-up van from a coal mine in the evening on 4 December, they were asked to stop but they did not, sources said.
Some soldiers, who were conducting an operation in the area after receiving inputs on the movement of militants of Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN(K), allegedly opened fire at the vehicle, an official said. He said that an investigation is underway to ascertain whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity.
“The incident and its aftermath are 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 Indian Army said in a statement. “The security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident including one soldier who succumbed to the injuries,” it said.
Following this, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio ordered a high-level probe by a special investigation team (SIT).
“The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High-level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land,” the chief minister tweeted.
Nagaland’s Governor Jagdish Mukhi has also condemned the attack and assured an SIT investigation.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed condolences to the families of the deceased and said that the high-level SIT constituted by the State govt will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families.
Mon shares a porous international border with Myanmar, where the Yung Aung faction of NSCN (K) is based. The situation is under control and police are conducting spot verification, the police said.
The chief minister appealed for peace from the people of all sections of the society. “Appeal for peace from all sections,” he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton promised that justice will be delivered.
“Oting’s (Mon) disturbing and tragic incident in which civilians were killed will be thoroughly investigated and justice will be served. Condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. In the wake of the tragedy, I urge peace from everyone!” he tweeted.
Earlier, Assam Rifles denied its involvement in the incident.