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,
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.
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.