Three “armed” Meitei persons were on Tuesday killed in a gunfight along the boundary of Manipur’s Kuki-dominated Kangpokpi district and the Meitei-dominated Imphal West district, a senior police official told Scroll.

However, the Manipur Police said that two “armed miscreants” had been killed.

The gunfight between the Meitei and Kuki groups at Nakhujang and Bethel areas started at 2 pm and went on till 4.30 pm, the police official said on the condition of anonymity.

The deceased are allegedly members of armed militia Arambai Tenggol and the United National Liberation Front, an insurgent group, who were camping in the area for the past two to three days, the police official said. “They had climbed up into the Kuki area in Kangpokpi district,” he said.

The official added: “We were trying to send them down through Imphal West police and kept the Kukis under control. Today, the Meitei armed miscreants retaliated when the security forces tried to flush them out [of the area]. All hell broke loose. The Kukis launched their attack.”

Four automatic weapons were allegedly snatched from the deceased persons by the Kukis, the police official added.

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.

In November, a faction of the Meitei armed group United National Liberation Front signed a peace agreement with the Centre, agreeing to renounce violence.

Earlier in November, the United National Liberation Front faction and seven other groups had been banned by the Centre for five years under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. They were banned for advocating the secession of Manipur through armed means. The groups are collectively referred to as Meitei Extremist Organisations.

Also read: In Imphal, the state’s surrender to an armed Meitei militia with ‘Taliban-like’ grip