An injured eight-year-old boy was killed along with his mother and another relative when an ambulance with the three on board was waylaid by a mob and set ablaze in Manipur's West Imphal district, officials said.
The incident occurred at Iroisemba on Sunday evening when the boy was being taken to a hospital by his mother and their relative in Imphal after he sustained a bullet injury in his head during a shoot-out, they said.
Three have been identified as Tonsing Hangsing (8), his 45-year-old mother Meena Hangsing, and Lydia Lourembam, aged 37, the officials said.
A senior Assam Rifles officer confirmed the incident and said security has been beefed up in and around the camp where it happened.
Sources said Tonsing, the son of a tribal man, and his Meitei mother, were staying at an Assam Rifles relief camp at Kangchup.
On June 4 evening, a gunfight started in the area, and despite being in the camp, he was hit by a bullet.
”A senior Assam Rifles officer immediately spoke to police in Imphal and arranged for an ambulance. Since the mother was from the majority community, a decision was taken to take the kid to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal by road,” sources said.
The ambulance was under Assam Rifles escort for a few kilometres, after which the local police took over.
”Around 6:30 pm, the ambulance was waylaid by civilians at Isoisemba and set ablaze. All three in the vehicle were killed. We still do not know where the bodies are,” one of the sources added.
The Kangchup area has several Kuki villages and is on Kangpokpi district's border with Imphal West, close to the Meitei village of Phayeng. The area has been seeing heavy exchange of fire in the second wave of violence across the state since May 27.
Violent clashes broke out in the northeastern state 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 clashes were preceded by tension over 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.