An Assam Rifles patrol vehicle was ambushed by “unidentified insurgents” on Thursday in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district, the authorities said.

An Army official told Scroll that it was an attempted improvised explosive device attack that took place in Saibol village at around 9 am when 10 Assam Rifles soldiers conducting a regular patrol were travelling in a mine protected vehicle.

“No one has been injured till now,” the official added. “The security forces are conducting operations to flush out the militants.”

The People’s Liberation Army, a Meitei insurgent group, in a statement on its website claimed responsibility for the blast. It said the outfit “ardently discharged their revolutionary duties”.

Manipur has been wracked by deadly ethnic clashes between the majority Meiteis and the tribal Kukis since May 3. The violence has left over 200 people dead and nearly 60,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

The IED blast on Thursday was followed by bursts of firing from militants. “The Assam Rifles personnel retaliated immediately,” an official told The Indian Express.

Twenty-three Assam Rifles battalions remain in the state due to “operational necessity”, The Indian Express reported.

The Army holds operational command of the Assam Rifles. Administratively, the paramilitary force is controlled by the Union ministry of home affairs.

Earlier this month, around 200 members of the Assam Rifles were flown into Moreh town in Manipur to flush out militants suspected to be responsible for a spate of recent attacks on security forces there. A senior police officer was shot dead by militants in Moreh two weeks ago.

The Manipur Police, which draws most of its constabulary from the Meitei community, has routinely accused the Assam Rifles of siding with the Kukis.

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