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ETHNIC CLASH

Indian protesters try to storm home of Manipur chief minister

Members of the Christian community hold placards as they take part in a protest rally for peace in the violence-hit northeastern Manipur state and against the ongoing conflict between two ethnic groups, Kukis and Meiteis, at Santhome Cathedral Basilica, in Chennai, India, 16 September 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / IDREES MOHAMMED)

At least 10 people were injured on Thursday when Indian security officials used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters trying to storm the home of the chief minister of Manipur state, defying a curfew, a senior police officer said.

Another police official said the situation was “extremely tense” after armed mobs on Wednesday vandalised an office of the ruling political party and hurled petrol bombs at two police sites.

Ethnic violence has plunged the northeastern state bordering Myanmar into what many security experts describe as an intense civil war fought over land, jobs and political clout between its two largest local groups.

Neither N. Biren Singh nor his family members were present in the house in the state capital Imphal at the time, the senior police officer in Manipur said.

“The situation is volatile … People are violating curfew orders and we are compelled to use force to stop them,” the officer said on conditions of anonymity.

Authorities declared the indefinite curfew in Imphal and some areas of Manipur after more than 80 students were injured on Wednesday in clashes following protests against the alleged abduction and murder of two students.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in the state for five days.

Since the violence first erupted on May 3, more than 180 people have been killed and over 50,000 have fled their homes in Manipur.

More than half the state’s population of 3.2 million belongs to the Meitei community, while the Kuki community, who make up about 43%, live mostly in the hills.

The two students, whose their bodies were found this week after they went missing in July, were from the Meitei community.

The students’ families and Meitei leaders have accused Kuki militants of killing them, and criticised authorities for failing to end the violence.

The chief minister, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, denounced the suspected murder and vowed maximum punishment for the culprits.

Leaders of the opposition Congress party have accused the Modi government of failing to control the violence in a state governed by his nationalist party. Modi’s government says efforts to restore peace through dialogue are being pursued.

(Reporting by Zarir Hussain and Rupam Jain; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Alison Williams.)

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