Members of Kuki woman's human rights organization shout slogans at a protest in New Delhi in 2011. The Kukis, a Christian tribe in northeastern India, say they are being targeted in ongoing deadly ethnic clashes. File Photo by Harish Tyagi/EPA
May 29 (UPI) -- Indian authorities said Monday they have carried out a wave of arrests in northeastern state of Manipur after renewed ethnic clashes over the weekend resulted in more deaths.
Manipur Chief Minister Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh told reporters at least five people were killed and 12 others were injured in a fresh round of violent clashes in Manipur on Sunday, including a police officer, while several houses were set on fire or otherwise vandalized.
Authorities say at least 80 people have died so far as a result of ethnic clashes in the region in the last month.
The Indian Army said Monday it has arrested more than 20 people in response to the violence while also seizing rifles, ammunition and hand grenades, the Press Trust of India reported.
Singh said "40 terrorists" have been shot and killed as the government looks to quell the violence.
"The terrorists have been using M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles and sniper guns against civilians," he said Sunday. "They came to many villages to burn down homes. We have started taking very strong action against them with the help of the army and other security forces."
A unit in the Indian Army recently tweeted what it calls evidence people using human shields during the violence.
Catholic groups say the predominantly Christian Kuki people are being targeted by pro-Hindu factions. The Kuki are one of several hill tribes in the area.
The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance said more than 1,700 homes owned by members of the Kuki tribe were destroyed, displacing some 45,000 people since the start of the month.
Fighting started in early May when multiple tribal groups protested a government judicial decision to grant the Meitei ethnic group status as a "scheduled tribe" to protect their ancestral lands, traditions, culture and language.
Also known as the Manipur people, the Meiteis are the predominant ethnic group in the northeastern Indian state, which has a population of 3.2 million people.