GUWAHATI, India –
Violence erupted in India’s northeastern state with a history of ethnic clashes when armed men exchanged gunfire with security forces, leaving at least two dead, police said Saturday.
The shootout took place in Pallel village in Manipur state on Friday, the police said in a statement. As reports of the shooting spread, hundreds of people belonging to the majority Meiti community rushed to the spot fearing attacks by the minority Kuki ethnic group.
Police said they fired tear gas. One army officer and three police were among 140 people injured, police said.
The police reported two deaths on Friday, but the Press Trust of India news agency said another person succumbed to head injuries in a hospital on Saturday.
The police tweeted the shootout was not between rival communities but involved unidentified armed men and security forces.
Manipur has been wracked by ethnic violence since early May between the two dominant ethnic groups. More than 150 people have been killed and over 60,000 displaced.
The unrest broke out when Christian Kukis protested a demand by the mostly Hindu Meiteis for a special status that would let them buy land in the hills populated by Kukis and other tribal groups. The clashes have persisted despite the army’s presence in Manipur, a state of 3.7 million people tucked in the mountains on India’s border with Myanmar.