Tensions on the border between India's Assam and Mizoram states have elevated since last month, when Assam's police allegedly took control of the hilly area of Lailapur.
At least seven people, including six police officers, were killed and more than 70 hurt in clashes between two Indian states, a senior politician said, as a weeks-long territorial dispute in the country's northeast turned deadly.
In a statement to Reuters, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday: "We have lost six of our policemen and a civilian along the Assam-Mizoram border when miscreants from Mizoram opened gunfire."
Tensions on the border between Assam and Mizoram have been elevated since last month, when Assam's police allegedly took control of the hilly area of Lailapur, accusing Mizoram of encroaching on the territory.
The violence highlights the long-standing inter-state boundary issues in the region, particularly between Assam and neighbouring states.
After killing 5 Assam police personnel and injuring many , this is how Mizoram police and goons are celebrating.- sad and horrific pic.twitter.com/fBwvGIOQWr— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
India's Northeastern Assam State Forest Minister, Parimal Suklabaidya, also said six police officers were killed in the violence.
In response, Mizoram's home minister, Lalchamliana, said in a statement Monday's violence began when Assam police encroached on its territory, calling the casualties on both sides "regrettable".
The two state heads, Assam's Sarma and Mizoram's Zoramthanga have each blamed the other side for the violence, appealing on Twitter for India's interior minister Amit Shah to intervene.
Both shared videos of clashes on a thin strip of road running through hills where armed police and civilians can be seen fighting with wooden batons.
Around 200 Assam armed Police led by IGP, Assam Police came to Vairengte Auto-rickshaw stand today. They forcibly crossed duty post manned by CRPF personnel stationed there and overran a duty post manned by Mizoram police: Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana pic.twitter.com/JTv1Fljyew— ANI (@ANI) July 26, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power in Assam, while the Mizo National Front (MNF), a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), is ruling in Mizoram.
The violence took place two days after Shah met chief ministers of the country's seven northeastern states.
According to local media, Shah spoke to Sarma and Zoramthanga and asked them to resolve the border issue.