Two people belonging to the Kuki community were shot dead allegedly by Meitei insurgents at the boundary of Kangpokpi and Imphal districts in Manipur, an Army official told Scroll.

The Committee on Tribal Unity, a tribal group, identified those who died as 38-year-old Henminlen Vaiphei and 26-year-old Thangminlun Hangshing. Vaiphei was a police official with the 6th India Reserve Battalion.

Both hailed from the Kuki majority Kangpokpi district.

Vaiphei and Hangshing were killed in a deserted forest between the Leilon Vaiphei and Kharam Vaiphei villages, Thangtinlen Haokip, a member of the Committee on Tribal Unity, told Scroll.

The Army official denied reports that a gunfight took place in the area.

“These two people were killed well inside the Kuki territory,” the official said. “When security forces went to the area after hearing the gunshots, they found that the bodies were lying near a vehicle, and blood was there. There was no evidence of a gunfight at all. These two were ambushed and the attackers moved away from the spot.”

The Committee on Tribal Unity called for a shutdown in the Kangpokpi district in protest against the killings. It said it called for the shutdown “to convey to the Union Government that we are no longer safe under partisan [Manipur] government.”.

The group also reiterated the demand for the separation of Kuki-dominated areas from Manipur.

Since May, Manipur has been witnessing an ethnic conflict between the majority Meiteis and the tribal Kukis. The conflict, which began on May 3, has left over 200 people dead, and nearly 60,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.