Imphal: An uneasy calm prevailed in Manipur, affected by ethnic conflict, a day after a sudden spurt in clashes and firing between militants and security forces, officials said on Monday.

The death toll from clashes a day before rose to five on Monday as three more people, who were undergoing treatment in hospitals, succumbed to their injuries, they said.

Army and paramilitary personnel continued combing operations in the Imphal valley and surrounding districts, an official said.

The Army operation is aimed at confiscating illegal caches of arms, he said.

Acting on a tip-off, a team of Army personnel apprehended three miscreants from Imphal East district on Sunday, and later handed over to the Manipur Police, a defence spokesperson said.

The army recovered arms and ammunition from them, he said.

“Responding to specific intelligence about armed miscreants venturing openly with the intention to carry out an attack on security forces in the area of City Convention Centre of Imphal East district, the Army mobilised three columns on Sunday to establish multiple mobile vehicle check posts there, the defence spokesperson said.

During the checking, the Army personnel intercepted a car, and on being stopped, the miscreants got down from the vehicle and attempted to escape from there but the security team apprehended them, he said.

“One INSAS rifle with magazine, sixty rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition, one Chinese hand grenade and one detonator were also recovered. All three miscreants with weapons and ammunition were later handed over to Manipur Police,” the defence spokesperson said.

The police had on Sunday said that at least two persons were killed and 12 injured in different instances of firing upon civilians and clashes between militants and security forces.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said nearly 40 armed militants involved in torching houses and firing at civilians have been killed by security forces since they began an operation to bring peace to the northeastern state beset by ethnic rioting.

The latest clashes began after the army and paramilitary forces commenced combing operations to de-arm communities in order to bring peace, officials said.

At Phayeng in Imphal West district, one person died on Sunday and another sustained bullet injuries after being fired at by suspected Kuki militants, the police officials said.

One policeman was killed and another injured at Sugnu in the firing. Six people were also injured at Sugnu and another four at Serou.

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The latest incidents of violence have also prompted district authorities to shorten the 11-hour curfew relaxation period in Imphal East and West districts to just six and a half hours.

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Ethnic clashes, which have claimed over 75 lives, first broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The violence was preceded by tension over the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which had led to a series of smaller agitations.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

Around 140 columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles, comprising over 10,000 personnel, besides those from other paramilitary forces, had to be deployed to bring back normalcy in the northeastern state.

Also Read | Sad how Manipur crisis is being shown to outside world: Sarita Devi

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