06/09/2022, 19.24
INDIA
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Terrorist suspect arrested in connection with blast at Catholic school in Manipur

by Nirmala Carvalho

Bomb attacks have recently increased in the northeastern Indian state, the latest against a Church-run educational facility. The National Revolutionary Front, a self-styled separatist and socialist organisation, claimed some attacks perpetrated in early May. Pupils and teachers held a sit-in protest calling for greater security.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Police arrested a man on Tuesday in connection with a recent attack against the Little Flower School, a Catholic school in Imphal, a city in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur.

When police took Thounaojam Rishi Luwangcha into custody, they seized a cache of explosives, detonators and wires allegedly used in the explosion, K. Shivakanta Singh, Superintendent of West Imphal Police, told reporters.

With his detention, the police believe they solved the cases of bomb attacks that occurred last month in Manipur.

According to law enforcement, an improvised explosive device placed at the second entrance gate of the school exploded at 3.09 am last Sunday. There were no casualties; only some windows were damaged.

When first questioned, the 46-year-old suspect said he was paid 30,000 rupees (US$ 385) to set off the explosion, adding that he was also involved in recent attacks in Nagamapal and Khurai, two districts of Imphal.

The National Revolutionary Front of Manipur, a separatist organisation headed by a self-proclaimed government-in-exile in Bangladesh, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The armed group says it is fighting for the creation of a socialist state in Manipur.

Over the past month, bomb attacks have become more frequent, to the point that the state's chief minister, Biren Singh, held a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue.

On 30 May, one man died and four others were injured in an explosion in the city of Thoubal.

On Monday, students and teachers from Little Flower School held a sit-in in front of the school calling for a violence-free education.

“We do not deserve this kind of terrifying atrocity in our school," said Khomdram Sushanti, a pupil at the school.

The protesting students carried banners that said: "Stop the violence", "Allow us to grow up without fear", "We condemn bomb attack on our school", "We are the pillars of the future".

School principal, Sister Martha Kaini, said it was unfortunate that “such an incident happened in a school working for the growth and all-round development of students.”

In a message, the Sister, who is a member of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, called on parents, former students, and school bus drivers to join the protest.

“Your cooperation is solicited for the cause to make our educational institutions a free and safe zone,” the nun wrote.

In a show of solidarity, all Catholic mission schools remained closed in Manipur on Tuesday.

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