Death toll in India's Assam up after violence

Nine bodies found after tribal separatists in northeastern state attacked Muslim villagers bringing the toll to 32.

    Authorities in India’s remote northeast have found nine more bodies after attacks by tribal separatists in Assam state, taking the death toll to 32 following two days of violence.

    The nine bodies, including those of women and children, were recovered on Saturday from Narayanguri village in Baksa district, about 200km west of Assam's main city, Guwahati.

     

    "The death toll has gone up to 32," police inspector general SN Singh told the AFP news agency.

    "Security has been further tightened with police and paramilitary troopers deployed in strength," he added.

    He also said an indefinite curfew had been imposed in affected districts, with police given shoot-on-sight orders.

    The attacks have prompted security forces to launch a hunt for the rebels and spurred thousands to flee from their homes, Singh said.

    The victims of the attacks were Muslims in dispute with indigenous Bodo tribes in the tea-growing state that borders Bhutan and Bangladesh.

    The Bodos are an indigenous tribe in Assam, making up 10 percent of the state's 33 million people.

    Increasing violence

    Fresh violence erupted on Friday night when rebels killed 12 Muslims, a day after they had killed three villagers in the same district and eight more in neighbouring Kokrajhar, firing at the victims as they slept in their homes.

    Heavy rains on Saturday hampered government forces from tracking down the rebels, who belong to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for the ethnic Bodo people for decades.

    Seventeen people were killed in other clashes in the same region in January and thousands of others fled their homes for fear of further attacks.

    In 2012, ethnic clashes in the same area killed 100 and displaced more than 400,000 people.

    The violence comes at a time of heightened security during India's general election, with the voting taking place over six weeks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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