Imphal: Separatists shot dead four people and left two others injured in Manipur yesterday, taking the toll of non-Manipuri people killed in separate attacks to 12 in the past two days, officials said.

A police spokesman said the casualties were reported in three separate attacks.

Three people were shot dead near Sanjenbam village on the outskirts of state capital Imphal, while another was killed a few kilometres away at Kanglasangomshang village.

"All the four killed were non-Manipuri people although we are yet to identify their state of origin," a police official, who declined to be identified, said here.

In the third incident at Saikul village in Senapati district, two non-Manipuri men were shot at and injured, one of them seriously.

Eight non-Manipuri people had been killed late on Monday - seven of them on a roadside near Mayai Lambi on the outskirts of Imphal.

"Seven people were brought in a van and then were lined up on the roadside with their hands tied to their back and were shot dead from close range with automatic weapons," said K. Tomba Singh, a police official.

In another incident a few miles away from Mayai Lambi, militants shot dead one more person in similar fashion.

Suspicion on two groups

"All those killed were definitely non-Manipuri people and were doing petty business in the area. For security reasons we would not like to reveal their names or their places of origin as that could flare up tension in the state," said L. Kailul, the police superintendent of Imphal East district. No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

"We suspect the attacks were carried out either by the outlawed People's Liberation Army (PLA) or the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) although we are yet to pinpoint the group involved," Kailul said.

The PLA and the KYKL are both fighting for an independent homeland for the majority Metei community in the state of 2.4 million people. This is the first time in Manipur that militants have targeted migrants.