Assam clashes toll mounts to 30, violence spreads

October 5th, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Oct 5 (IANS) The toll in three days of clashes between two communities in Assam has mounted to 30, more than 100 have been injured, and about 30,000 people have been displaced, officials said Sunday.According to updated figures, 30 people were killed so far, 14 of them in separate incidents of police firing, including four Sunday, an Assam home department statement said.

A government spokesman said the police and paramilitary troopers Sunday opened fire at three locations to disperse armed mobs trying to set ablaze villages of a rival community in the northern district of Udalguri, about 120 km from Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

At least four people were killed when the police opened fire on armed miscreants trying to set ablaze a village, a senior police official said requesting not to be named.

All the four victims belonged to a minority community.

Miscreants Sunday also managed to set ablaze a cluster of homes in the violence-torn district of Udalguri. The violence has spread to the adjoining districts of Darrang and Baksa, the official said.

The two districts of Udalguri and Baksa border the Himalayan nation of Bhutan.

Violence erupted after village officials belonging to the tribal Bodo group were attacked by members o a minority community Friday, the police said.

Other groups in the violence-torn districts joined the clashes, with mobs armed with machetes, spears and homemade guns targeting rival communities. Now the violence is not confined to the tribal Bodos and the minority, even indigenous Assamese and tea garden workers called as the Adivasis are caught in the clashes, the official said.

Troops were instructed to shoot on sight in two districts of the state where a curfew has been imposed, the police said.

“About 400 houses have been torched,” the official said.

About 30,000 people have fled their homes and are living in state-run relief centres.

The police and locals blamed militants of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), a tribal insurgent group currently engaged in a ceasefire accord with the central govenment, of attacking and torching villages belonging to the minority community.

“We have also got such reports of the NDFB instigating the violence and if such reports are found to be true, we shall have no options other than calling off the ceasefire,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists Sunday.

Community leaders and opposition political parties blamed the state government for failing to control the violence.

“Despite the government issuing curfew and shoot-on-sight orders in force, violence is continuing and there are complaints that there are no security forces present in several vulnerable areas,” former chief minister and Asom Gana Parishad-Progressive leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said after visiting the violence-hit district.

In August, the area witnessed similar clashes between two communities in which about 10 people were killed and several injured.

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