16 killed in communal clashes in north-eastern India
New Delhi (dpa) - At least 16 people were killed in communal
clashes between Bodo tribals and Muslim migrants in India's north-eastern Assam
state over the past three days, news reports said Sunday.
The clashes took place in Udalgiri and Darrang districts, about 100 kilometres north of Assam's main city Guwahati, IANS news agency reported.
The police found charred bodies of nine people killed in the violent clashes since Saturday night, an unnamed district police official was quoted as saying, dpa reported.
"The casualties as of now are 16 killed and 50 wounded, some of them critically. About 20 villages have been affected. Around 200 houses were torched in the group clashes," the official was quoted as saying.
The violence was sparked on Friday in Rowta village of Udalgiri after a group of village defence volunteers were attacked by armed miscreants, the police said.
"The village defence volunteers belonged to the tribal Bodo community and were attacked by members of a religious minority group and that sparked off the clashes," the police official said.
The violence then spread to adjoining villages in Udalgiri and Darrang districts.
Saturday night clashes occurred despite a curfew in the area and the presence of large numbers of police and paramilitary troopers.
The Indian Army has also been holding flag marches in the area.
"We have asked security forces to take all possible steps to stop the violence and restore calm," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was quoted as saying.
"Shoot-on-sight orders have been issued against perpetrators of violence," Gogoi said.
"The situation is tense," the district police official said. Mobs armed with bow and arrows, machetes, spears and homemade guns were roaming the area targeting villages of rival communities, he said. At least nine villages were attacked by mobs on Saturday.
Thousands of villagers have fled their homes and have been given shelter in temporary relief camps set up by the police. "There are an estimated 10,000 people of various ethnic communities in these camps," the police official said.
Similar clashes between the two communities had occurred in the same area in August in which at least 10 were killed and several injured.
Bodo tribals are a local ethnic community while the Muslims are largely from neighbouring Bangladesh and have illegally migrated to Assam in search of work.