The Manipur Police on Monday said that they have detained three persons from the hill district of Kangpokpi after two Meitei teenagers went missing.

The two boys, identified as 16-year-old Maibam Avinash and 19-year-old Ningthoujam Anthony, went missing after they visited the Sekmai area in Imphal West district on Sunday morning to attend a function, The Hindu reported.

The incident has led to fresh tensions in the Imphal valley. The state has been reeling under ethnic clashes between Kuki and Meitei communities. Over 200 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in early May. Nearly 60,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

The Kuki-Zos are in a majority in the hill districts. The Meiteis dominate the Imphal Valley.

In a social media post, the Manipur Police said that the persons were detained during a search operation by the security forces in Khengjang and K Lhangnom villages of Kangpokpi.

“[The] individuals have been detained for further interrogation and verification in connection with the incident,” the police said. “Search operation [for the two teenagers] continues.”

Governor Anusuiya Uikey met the families of the missing teenagers on Monday.

The phones of Avinash and Anthony were reportedly recovered wrapped in a black plastic bag near an oil pump in Senapati district. The Senapati district is an area dominated by the Naga community.

The Naga People’s Organization in Manipur condemned this, alleging that “some miscreants” had intentionally dropped the phones of the two teenagers it the Senapati district to drag the Nagas into the ethnic conflict between.

“This deceitful act is intended to drag the Nagas and flare up misunderstandings between different communities,” the organisation said on Monday. “Nagas of Senapati [have] been constantly nurturing neutrality, but unscrupulous miscreants tend to scapegoat those not involved.”

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