At least 15 people lost their lives in a firing incident at Mon district in Nagaland on Saturday evening. 

According to reports, the incident took place somewhere near Tiru village in Mon district of Nagaland. 

The incident allegedly took place when a group of labourers onboard a pick-up vehicle was on its way from Tiru village. 

Security personnel, who were in the area for a anti-insurgency operation, allegedly opened fire upon the vehicle leading to the deaths and injuries. 

The security personnel reportedly mistook the civilians as insurgents.

The villagers came to know about the incident when the victims did not return home several hours after the usual time. When they went in search of them, they found the bodies in a pick-up truck. On seeing the bodies, the villagers set ablaze a vehicle belonging to the security forces.

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Meanwhile, tension prevails in the area following the firing incident. 

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The police have launched an investigation into the case. 

Mon deputy commissioner Thavaseelan K confirmed to this correspondent the death of the 13 people in the incident. Terming the incident as unfortunate, he refused to comment further. However, the DC said an official press statement on the matter will be issued.

The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) expressed deep regret and vehemently condemned the incident.

The ENPO, which represents the six tribes of eastern Nagaland, declared hours of mourning on Sunday. It also asked all the six tribes under it to abstain from participating in the ongoing Hornbill Festival at Kisama with immediate effect till the funeral services of the deceased are over.

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It also asked the six tribes to hoist black flags in all their morungs at the festival venue.

The ENPO said its directive is not against the state government. “This is to show resentment against the security forces who have committed this heinous crime, and to show solidarity with the six tribes,” it said.

Assam and Nagaland Governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi strongly condemned the incident of firing on the villagers. He has appealed to all to maintain peace.

In a communiqué, Mukhi said the government has already constituted an SIT for an immediate investigation of the incident for delivery of Justice.

He said the SIT will investigate the incident from all angles. He also said a court of inquiry has been instituted against the army personnel involved.

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The Governor also conveyed deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wishes speedy recovery of the injured.

Meanwhile, a defence release on Sunday said the cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the law.

The incident and its aftermath are deeply regretted, the release said.

It said the security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident. One soldier succumbed to the injuries in the incident.

The release added that a specific operation was planned to be conducted in Tiru area of Mon district following credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com