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Indian troops kill five rebels hiding in a lake

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - Troops shot dead five separatist guerrillas hiding out on an island in the middle of a lake in Manipur, army officials said on Tuesday.

The rebels belonging to PREPAK, a powerful armed group in the landlocked northeastern state, were hiding in a house they built in one of the lake’s many small islands, a defence spokesman said.

“They were inside one of the many small floating islands inside Loktak lake, when our men surprised them,” Ramesh Kumar Das, a defence spokesman told Reuters.

“There could be others hiding and we are trying to find them.”

Loktak lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the mountainous region, made up of eight troubled states.

Police said PREPAK rebels were responsible for an assassination bid on the life of the Manipur’s Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh last week.

The rebels fired a shell on Singh’s fortified house, but nobody was hurt.

India’s northeast, comprising eight states, has seen separatist and tribal insurgencies for the past 60 years, as militant groups accuse New Delhi of plundering the region’s mineral and forest resources, but investing little in return.

The region is home to more than 200 tribes and ethnic groups.