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Public gathering of more than five people at a time has been banned in the Mon district of Nagaland, and movement of all vehicles of non-essential nature, including commercial vehicles, has been prohibited under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPc).
15 people, including 14 civilians and one special forces personnel, have been killed in the district so far. A murder case has also been filed. The Nagaland government has formed a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police to probe the incident. The case has been transferred to the crime branch police station. All activities of the state's signature Hornbill festival have been cancelled till Monday night, government sources say.
The special forces of the Indian army were set for a counter-insurgency operation in the Mon district that borders Myanmar, sources said. Following a tip-off about a possible movement of insurgents, they had laid an ambush near Oting village on Saturday afternoon. But they opened fire on a truck on the Tiru-Oting road, which was carrying villagers, police sources said. Six villagers died when the forces opened fire, two died later while being taken to the hospital, sources said.
Soon after, angry locals surrounded the security forces. Police sources said five villagers were killed and six injured as the forces opened fire at the mob in "self-defense". A soldier died and three vehicles of the security forces were also set on fire.
In the evening, the situation turned tense in Mon town as angry protesters surrounded the Assam rifles camp. Police sources said they broke into the camp and tried to set fire to a portion of it. A man died in the violence. Assam Rifles has released a statement saying it "deeply regrets" the loss of lives of "our Naga brothers."
In a statement, the army said: "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 incident and its aftermath are deeply regretted".
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who was in Delhi, is back in the state and will visit Mon tomorrow and meet the locals. He has already announced that a Special Investigation Team will investigate the matter. Mobile internet and SMS services have been blocked in the Mon district to stop the circulation of rumours.
Union home minister Amit Shah tweeted: "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".
"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. Appeal for peace from all sections," tweeted Chief Minister Rio.
The Mon area is the stronghold of Naga group NSCN(K) and even ULFA and the incident comes during the state's signature "Hornbill Festival", which is being attended by several diplomats. The Konyak community, to which the villagers belonged, said it has decided to abstain from any further participation in the Hornbill Festival. Six other tribal groups also said they will not participate.
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