Phungyar MLA escapes assassination bid
Six security personnel, two civilians killed, five others wounded

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, April 15 2011: Phungyar MLA Wungnaoshang Keishing narrowly escaped death today as he faced a brazen attack by insurgents armed with automatic weapons.

Six security escort personnel and two civilians were killed in the ambush.

Five others which included four escort personnel and a civilian were also wounded.

The MLA received minor injuries in the ambush that was laid by the insurgents at a place not far away from Riha village where he had attended a convention on HIV/AIDS.

The ambush took place around 2.30 pm at the top of a hill about half a kilometre away from Riha village, 16 kms on the south of Litan PS of Ukhrul.

Seven of the eight persons died on the spot while one, a civilian died at Shija hospital where he was rushed along with two other critically wounded security personnel.

Three other injured personnel were admitted to the RIMS hospital.

Insurgents laid the ambush on Keishing's vehicle as he was leaving Riha village where he had attended a HIV/AIDS convention, organised under the initiative of the Manipur Legislators' Forum on HIV/AIDS.

Tamei MLA, Awangbou Newmai and former Chandel MLA BD Behring who were invited for the programme did not turn up to attend the programme without giving any reasons.

Chairman of the forum, Dr I Ibohalbi, however, had given prior information of being unable to attend the programme.

Locals help a wounded security personnel

Out of the slain security personnel three were from 6th MR who had been sent as additional security escort.

The other three slain security personnel belonged to 1st MR.Some IRB and 2nd MR personnel were also part of the additional escort.

The security escort and house guard provided to the MLA are from the personnel of 1st MR.The three slain 6th MR personnel were Havildar Khaidem Kunjo (56) of Nambol Thiyam Leikai, Havildar H Narendra (29) son of Nabakumar of Keishamthong Hodam Leirak and rifleman Tomba (53) of Moirang while the three personnel of the 1st MR were Y Surchand (45) son of Late Ranjit of Chingmeirong (driver), Md Tazauddin (30) son of Habibullah of Yairipok Bamon Leikai presently residing at Mantripukhri and Pureng Tangkhul (35) son of Hanaoshing Nogman of Phungyar.

The civilian who died at the ambush site was identified as Ramreingam (26) son of Late C Moses of Patbung village of Phungyar A/C.He was the personnel driver of the MLA.

The other civilian who died at Shija hospital was identified Vaorei Keishing (65) of New Checkon.

He is a retired government employee who served in the Social Welfare Department.

He succumbed to his injuries at Shija hospital around 10.30 pm.

The critically injured security personnel who were admitted at Shija hospital included driver Thokchom Sunildro (45) son Late Ibopishak of Malom Tuliyaima of 2nd MR and Stephen Keishing son Jahangpao of Hasu village of Ukhrul's Chingai, rifleman in the 6th MR.The three personnel who were rushed to RIMS hospital were rifleman of 6th MR Sarangthem Mangi (41) of Nambol Thiyam Leikai, rifleman of 1st MR, Takhelchangbam Irabanta Sharma (35) son of T Kunjamani of Bamon Leikai Mange Makhong and rifleman of 1st MR, Md Rehman (32) son of Md Fajur Rehman of Sangaiyumpham.

Rehman and Mangi sustained four bullet injuries in their left hands, right thighs, backs and other parts of their bodies.

Armed with automatic weapons, the suspected insurgents opened fire when the vehicle of the MLA escorted by personnel of the 1st, 2nd and 6th IRB in three vehicles left Riha village leaving behind the media team who were there for coverage of the convention.

One of the escort vehicles fell into a deep gorge on the side of the road while the others were badly damaged.

It was feared that arms had been snatched by the attackers but all arms were recovered by the Assam Rifles and police personnel who conducted a search in a follow up to the ambush.

Media persons escaped unhurt as the vehicle with media persons travelled was yet to leave the village after the programme.

When the MLA's car and his escorts reached the ambush site, well armed insurgents opened fire towards the vehicles from both sides of the road.

Reporters there saw four insurgents leaving the spot hurriedly after the ambush.

The vehicle in which the MLA was travelling stopped after hitting the hill face of the road as bullets started to shower.

The MLA jumped into the gorge.

An injured personnel said that while laying the ambush, attackers shouted as "khupaire khupaire" which means 'still alive' in Tangkhul.

This has raised suspicion that the ambush might have been laid by NSCN(IM) cadres.

Later, speaking to reporters at his quarters, MLA Wungnaoshang said that he had been saved by his driver.

After the driver drove towards the hill side, he jumped down into the gorge and hid himself in the culvert of the gorge.

The attackers could not target him as his escort personnel returned and exchanged fire for about 10 minutes, the MLA said.

The MLA said he was not certain who were the attackers as he had not got any warning from any UG group.

DGP, Y Joykumar, when contacted by Hueiyen Lanpao said that police is yet to establish which UG outfit was behind the ambush but that no weapons were taken away by the attackers.

Additional security forces have been sent to launch a search operation, he added.

Earlier, a team of Imphal east commandos had rushed to the area as soon as the ambush took place.

Search operation is in progress, police reports said.

Chief Minister, O Ibobi paid a visit to Shija and RIMS hospital where the injured security personnel were admitted.

He announced that the government would bear all medical expenses of the injured personnel.

Given the recent activities of MLA Wungnaoshang, police intelligence suspect that NSCN(IM) might have been behind the ambush but so far the UG group has not owned up the incident.

Mention may be made that even though Wungnaoshang was backed by the UNC in the 2007 election, his relations with the Naga based body had turned bitter when the MLA disobeyed the diktat of the UNC which had asked him to drop the demand for Phungyar to be made into a district.

It may be recalled that Wungnaoshang had submitted his resignation as MLA on May 12, 2010 on the advice of the UNC.

MLA Wungnaoshang Keishing was among the seven Nagas MLAs who have submitted resignations as MLAs in the wake of the Manipur government barring NSCN(IM) general secretary Th Muivah entering Manipur territory in May, 2010 .

Of the latest in January this year, UNC had asked the MLAs to clarify their position on their membership in the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

The intimation had demanded a reply on or before January 31, 2011 .

In reply, the seven MLAs had reiterated that they had submitted their resignations to the Speaker of the State Assembly on May 6, 2010 but till date no ruling had been given by the Speaker.

Other MLAs remained silent with regard to their political activities, MLA Wungnaoshang, however, continued his political activities with the demand for bifurcating Ukhrul district to form Phungyar district.

The UNC was not happy with the move of the Phungyar people particularly with the MLA and had asked for a withdrawal of the demand for Phungyar to be made into a district saying that the demand at this point of time in Naga/hill areas of Manipur is the handiwork of adversaries to vitiate and derail the alternative arrangement being sought, claiming that the process for the same (alternative arrangement) is in progress peacefully and democratically.

Phungyar MLA, Wungnaoshang Keishing, in reply, had expressed surprise at the UNC's stand on the creation of Phungyar district, describing that the demand had nothing to do with GoI-NSCN(IM) peace talks.

He claimed that the demand for a new district was approached to the government as per wishes of the people and he is supporting the demands as a representative of the people.

He said it is his bounden duty as MLA to fulfill the desires of the people.

A source in the police department suggested that this ambush could be related to the latest political activities of the MLA.

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