In perhaps the worst case of fratricidal killing in the security forces,a jawan of the Assam Rifles shot dead six of his colleagues at a remote checkpost in Manipurs Ukhrul district this evening.
Sources said the victims belonged to the 17 Assam Rifles and were manning a road checkpost at Awang Kasom Khullen. According to initial reports,the jawan got into a verbal altercation with another soldier and shot him dead with a service rifle. Hearing the gunshots,five other soldiers,including a JCO,rushed in. However,they,too,came under fire and were shot dead. Only one jawan was reported to have survived.
Security forces are searching for the jawan who hails from Nagaland and is believed to be familiar with the local terrain. Police suspect he might be headed to a stronghold of the NSCN-IM insurgents. The group has a ceasefire agreement with the government in Nagaland but is active in Manipur.
The Assam Rifles has been carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the area and had busted two NSCN-IM bunkers in the last few days. In the last such case,an IAF sergeant shot dead his superior at Kalaikunda airbase in September last year. More than 70 officers and men have died from colleagues bullets since 2001.