The Union government on Friday extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, in Nagaland’s eight districts and 21 police stations that fall in the five other districts for six months, declaring them “disturbed areas”, reported ANI on Saturday.

AFSPA gives Army personnel in “disturbed areas” sweeping powers to search, arrest and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs order comes into effect from April 1 and will last till September 30 unless it is withdrawn earlier.

AFSPA has been extended throughout Chumoukedima, Noklak, Dimapur, Niuland, Mon, Kiphire, Phek and Peren districts. It has also been extended in 21 police station jurisdictions in Zunheboto, Mokokchung, Wokha, Longleng and Kohima districts.

In the North East, the law is also in force in parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. Chief ministers of northeastern states as well as several members of civil society and tribal bodies have been demanding that the law be withdrawn.

The demand had gained prominence after the killing of 14 civilians by security forces in Mon district in December.