At least 13 people, all coal miners, and a soldier were killed and 11 injured in an unfortunate incident of “mistaken identity” in Mon District of Nagaland, sources said on Sunday.
The leaders of various Naga organisations, including Konyak Hoho, claimed that 13 civilians were killed when the security forces fired on them due to “mistaken identity” and two more were reported missing after the Saturday evening incident on the Tiru-Oting road.
According to the Naga organisation leaders, who refused to be identified, 11 other civilians were injured.
The incident took place when the victims, who were daily wagers, were returning home from a coal mine in a pick-up van.
Villagers said that the security personnel are believed to have mistaken the victims as members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang-Yung Aung) and fired on them.
Angry locals attacked the security forces and damaged their vehicles.
Defence sources said that the security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident, including one soldier who succumbed to the injuries.
A brief statement of the Army said that based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents, a specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru under Mon District.
“The incident and its aftermath is 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 statement said.
Nagaland police are yet to provide details of the incident.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has ordered for a high-level probe by a Special Investigation Team.
“The unfortunate incident leading to killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families and speedy recovery of those injured.
High-level SIT will investigate and justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections,” the Chief Minister tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also condemned the killings. He said, “I express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives.”
Shah said a high-level Special Investigation Team has been constituted by the state government and it will “thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families.”