Chief of Indian state escapes assassination

The leader of the insurgency-torn northeastern Indian state of Manipur was ambushed on Sunday by suspected separatists who killed two of his bodyguards, police said.

    Revolt-racked Manipur in NE India has seen 10,000 killed in the past 20 years.

    Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was travelling from Manipur's

    capital Imphal to Wangjing, a town 28 kilometres outside

    the city, when assailants hurled explosives at his motorcade and

    opened fire with automatic weapons, police said.

    "The chief minister escaped unhurt, but two paramilitary

    troopers were killed in the ambush and five more people, including a

    civilian, were seriously wounded," a police official said.

     


    "The attempt on my life was nothing but an act of cowardice by

    militants acting out of desperation"

    Okram Ibobi Singh,
    Chief Minister 

    Singh was escorted back to his official residence in Imphal

    under heavy security and the state was put on alert.

    "The attempt on my life was nothing but an act of cowardice by

    militants acting out of desperation," Singh told news agency AFP.

    The police official said troops with Singh opened fire after the

    convoy was attacked but that the assailants managed to escape.

    Police said initial indications were that the assassination bid

    was carried out by the Manipur People's Liberation Front, an

    umbrella group of five separatist outfits.

    Troubled state

    Manipur, a state of 2.4 million people bordering Myanmar, is

    home to at least 19 guerrilla groups with demands ranging from

    greater autonomy for particular ethnic groups to independence from

    India.

    More than 10,000 people have died in the state in the past two

    decades.

    Manipur has seen nearly incessant bloodshed since it was made a

    full part of the Indian union in 1949. The conflict centres mostly

    on the status of ethnic Meiteis, who

    are deeply resentful of the influx of settlers from

    the rest of India.

    Rebel groups have also accused India of granting

    too many concessions, particularly in public employment, to the

    state's 30-odd other ethnic groups including hill tribes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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