Mob burns houses, clashes with police in Orissa

September 25th, 2008 - 12:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 25 (IANS) Tension continued in Orissa’s volatile Kandhamal district Thursday after more houses owned by Christians were set on fire and hundreds of people clashed with police and blocked roads. Officials said clashes broke out Wednesday night after police tried to prevent mobs from torching Christian homes.

“Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel chased away the people who were trying to set houses on fire in Daringbadi block but some houses were damaged Wednesday night. The situation in the region is tense,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.

Oriya daily Sambad reported that the mob burnt at least a dozen houses as well as a church and a prayer house in villages under Daringbadi block.

On Wednesday, people had also blocked several roads with wooden logs to protest the killing of a person in police firing in Raikia town, about 280 km from here.

More than 1,000 people, mostly women, had Tuesday surrounded a police station in Raikia, demanding the release of two people who had been arrested Monday on charges of rioting.

The mob pelted stones, forcing police and CRPF troopers to hit people with batons and then open fire. One person was killed and 25 people, including many policemen, were injured.

“We managed to remove the wooden logs by Wednesday night and sent around 150 policemen and paramilitary troopers to the area,” Kumar said.

They joined the 500 policemen and CRPF personnel who had been camping in the area since the firing, he said.

Kandhamal district has been witnessing communal violence since Aug 23, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four others were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram.

Since then, thousands of people have been rendered homeless, many churches attacked and at least 25 people, mostly Christians, killed in the state.

Prohibitory orders are still in force in the district and night curfew is imposed in most towns.

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