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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Three killed in Manipur attacks
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Three people have been killed in two separate attacks in the north-east Indian state of Manipur, police say.

Unidentified gunmen shot at three traders late on Tuesday night - two of them have died and the third is battling for his life.

Separately, another man was shot and killed in the state's southern district of Churachandpur.

Police say the reason for the attack was not yet known but suspect that separatists were involved.

The traders hailed from the northern state of Bihar and were said to mainly deal in betel leaf.

They would procure it from Manipuri villagers and sell it to wholesalers in towns like Manipur's capital Imphal.

Late-night attack

Late on Tuesday, as the traders were preparing to leave Kakching Bazaar some 20km from Imphal, three gunmen drove past them in a jeep and sprayed bullets from automatic rifles.

Dulhan Malhar, who had been living at Kakching itself, was killed on the spot, while his friend Parsuram died on way to the hospital.

The third trader, Prem Kumar, is in an Imphal hospital with a bullet in the neck and doctors describe his condition as serious.

Police said the style of the attack indicated the involvement of local separatists because the attackers were armed with automatic rifles that the rebels used.

In a separate incident, a 24-year old youth was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at Senjang village in Churachandpur on Tuesday night.

Police said the victim was involved in the kidnapping of a child in Churachandpur town in October last year.

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