Armed militants struck for the fifth time in four months at Pallel town in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district before dawn Friday, setting off retaliatory gunfire, arson and clashes between civilians and security forces in which two people died and 48 – including an Army officer – were wounded.
Within hours of the violence, the administration evacuated 1,500-odd tribal women and children from this area with a mixed population, located 60km from Moreh on the India-Myanmar border.
The first bullets were fired around 4am, when about 50 armed men in 15 vehicles coming from the Chandel side simultaneously attacked three villages – Molnoi, Kotlenphai and Munjang – along NH2, sources said. A man identified as Paokholen Haokip (32) was killed in one of the villages.
Security forces arrived at the scene soon after, leading to a gunfight in which the officer was wounded.
‘New trend of attackers now coming through Naga-inhabited areas’
As security forces engaged armed militants who had attacked an area near Pallel town in Manipur on Friday, a crowd of villagers with women at the forefront scuffled with security forces in a bid to prevent reinforcements from reaching the zone where the armed group had struck, sources said.
This led to the second death in the violence, when one Yengkhom Jiten (48) of Kakching died of a bullet injury to the head. Five among the 47 wounded were also struck by what security forces said were stray bullets fired in the air along with tear gas to disperse the mob.
Around two dozen houses were burned down as the day progressed. Two RAF companies dispatched to Pallel had to return to Imphal, 45km from the flashpoint, after a mob blocked the way at Thoubal.
Sources in the security establishment said they had received intelligence inputs about the impending attack on Pallel. “It’s a new trend of attackers coming through Naga-inhabited areas. This time, they came in from the side of Thamlapokpi village, which is a Naga area,” a source said.
On August 18, suspected militants tortured and killed three Kuki villagers in Naga-dominant Ukhrul. Located at the trijunction of the Moreh, Imphal and Chandel routes, Pallel is home to Nagas and Kukis along with the majority Meitei community.

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