The Manipur Police on Monday arrested two members of the Kuki Inpi Tengnoupal – an apex body of Kukis in the state’s Tengnoupal district – in connection with the killing of a police officer in October.

The men have been identified as Philip Khaikholal Khongsai and Hemkholal Mate. They were arrested on Monday after they allegedly opened fire on vehicles of security personnel in Moreh, a town close to the India-Myanmar border.

“[They] are among the main suspects behind the assassination of [Moreh sub-divisional police officer] Chingtham Anand Singh,” the police said in a post on social media.

Singh was killed by a suspected Kuki sniper on October 31 while supervising work on a new helipad in Moreh for security forces.

At the time of their arrest, Khongsai and Mate were allegedly in possession of a pistol with two live rounds, one Chinese hand grenade, ten live rounds of assault rifle ammunition and ten explosive detonators with fuses.

“On being fired upon [by Khongsai and Mate], the security forces immediately retaliated,” the police statement said. “The two suspicious individuals were chased and overpowered using minimum force and were detained for verification.”

The Kuki Inpi Tengnoupal, commenting on the arrests, said that allegations against Khongsai and Mate in connection with Singh’s killing were baseless. The organisation warned that any attempt to implicate them would “invite serious consequences”.

The Kuki Inpi Tengnoupal alleged that on Monday, Meitei militants – including members of radical Meitei group Arambai Tenggol – fired at women who were protesting a proposed commando outpost at the Chikim village near Moreh. The group also claimed that members of Arambai Tenggol abducted two of its members who were trying to pacify the situation.

The situation in Moreh has been tense following an ambush on security forces by suspected insurgents on December 30, after which a curfew was imposed in the town.

Manipur has been gripped by ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities since early May. Over 200 people have been killed since the conflict broke out and nearly 67,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.