Indian forces opened fire on civilians in the remote northeastern state of Nagaland, killing at least 14 tribal civilians and one security personnel.
The government and military officials confirmed on Sunday that 14 civilians were killed mistakenly after the Indian forces opened indiscriminate fire.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said he was “anguished” at the news of civilians being killed in the incident late on Saturday night.
Nagaland’s chief minister Neiphiu Rio told Reuters that an investigation will be conducted and the guilty will be punished in the incident, which he attributed to intelligence failure.
A federal defence ministry official based in New Delhi said that at least a dozen civilians and some members of the security forces were also injured in the attack.
Locals in Nagaland have repeatedly accused forces of wrongly targeting innocent locals during their counterinsurgency operations against rebel groups.
A senior police official based in Nagaland said that the incident occurred in and around Oting village in Mon district, bordering Myanmar, while a counterinsurgency operation was conducted by members of the Assam Rifles— a part of Indian security forces deployment in the state.
Firing began when a truck carrying 30 or more coal-mine laborers were passing the Assam Rifles camp area.
The senior police official said, “The troopers had intelligence inputs about some militant movement in the area and on seeing the truck they mistook the miners to be rebels and opened fire killing six labourers”.
He added, “After the news of firing spread in the village, hundreds of tribal people surrounded the camp. They burnt Assam Rifles vehicles and clashed with the troopers using crude weapons,” he said.
Members of the Assam Rifles hit back and launched a second attack killing eight more civilians and a security member.
In recent years India has tried to persuade Myanmar to evict rebels from bases in the thick jungles of the region, which borders Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.