A high-level team of government officials is visiting the conflict-hit district of Karbi Anglong in India's north-east Assam state, even as thousands of ethnic Rengma Nagas and Karbis have fled their homes in fear.

The team on Wednesday visited nine relief camps in the district's Bokajan sub-division in which at least 3,800 displaced locals are staying, reports said.

Tension and fear prevails in the camps since the violence on December 27 when suspected armed members of the Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (KPLT) attacked Khowanigaon, a village 315km from the provincial capital, Guwahati, dominated by the ethnic Rengma Naga tribes, reports said.

Six died while scores fled their homes in that attack.

In retaliation, on January 4, armed members of the Naga Rengma Hills Protection Force (NRHPF) attacked a Karbi village killing one youngster. The same day, bodies of nine Karbis were found in Dimapur in neighbouring Nagaland state. The Karbis too fled their homes.

Point of no return?

According to reports, the fighting between the Karbis and the Rengma Nagas has triggered fears that their age-old relationship may be reaching a point of no return.

"We have witnessed clashes between the Karbis and the Kukis, between the Dimasas and Hindi-speaking migrants, but we have never had any problem with the Rengma Nagas. We must not allow this tension to disturb our relations," Leichang Engleng, the president of the Karbi Students’ Association (Engleng faction), told the local The Telegraph newspaper.

Karbi Anglong, Assam state's largest district, dominated by the Karbi tribes has witnessed disturbances for the last 15 years with several armed groups emerging over this period and indulging in violence causing hundreds of deaths.

The Karbi groups, like the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV), have mainly targeted non-Karbis over the years - and their main demand has been the formation of a separate Karbi state within the Indian union.

At least two people were killed in police firing as protesters called for a separate Karbi Anglong state in August last year.

According to estimates, at least 300 people have died in the violence in Karbi Anglong since 1999, mostly settlers from other ethnicities.

Source: Al Jazeera